Blog posts about the art of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization.

Two Wide Shell Bangles

Two magnificent wide shell bangles, each made from a single conch shell (Turbinella pyrum) found at Harappa.
Two magnificent wide shell bangles, each made from a single conch shell (Turbinella pyrum) found at Harappa. "The use of marine shell in the manufacture of ornaments and ritual objects provides one of the most striking examples of the continuity between the Indus cities and later cultures in South Asia. Along the coastal regions of Makran, Kutch and Gujarat, the conch shell or Turbinella pyrum was collected throughout the period following the decline of Indus cities.

Men of Harappa B

Male figurines are sometimes also identified by secondary sex characteristics such as beards. Occasionally, male figurines wear a headdress with two upward and/or outward projections like horns. Similar figures with horned headdresses are found in the iconography of seals, tablets, and pottery. It is possible that these represent composite figures with anthropomorphic and animal attributes or the appropriation of animal attributes in the form of a headdress. In addition to different postures, male figurines also exhibit a variety of hairstyles.

A Deer from Lothal

"The Lothal craftsmen exhibited originality of thinking and great resourcefulness. As an example we may mention the new style of earthenware with animal motifs which are more realistic than those on the Indus valley pottery," writes excavator S.R. Rao.

An Ancient Indus Die

A cubical die with 1 to 6 dots was found in rubble during excavations at Harappa. Many such dice were also found at Mohenjo-daro. John Marshall writes: "That dicing was a common game at Mohenjo-daro is proved by the number of pieces that have been found. In all cases they are made of pottery and are usually cubical, ranging in size from 1.2 by 1.2 by 1.2 inches to 1.5 by 1.5 by 15 inches. . .. The dice of Mohenjo-daro are not marked in the same way as to-day, i.e. so that the sum of the points on any two opposite sides amounts to seven.

Lady of the Spiked Throne Figurines

The terracotta model from the left side.
An exceptional and controversial recent find in a private collection is analyzed by a leading Italian archaeologist in a fully illustrated complete online volume with possible implications for understanding ancient Indus culture. Massimo Vidale writes: "In Autumn 2009, I was invited by a private collector to see an artefact that was mentioned as unique and very complex, and reportedly belonged to the cultural sphere of the Indus civilization.

Storage Jar with Script

Many large storage jars of the (Period 3) Harappa Phase (2600-1900 BCE) have writing inscribed along the upper portion of the vessel. This inscription includes a figure of a man with the bow and arrow sign in each hand. It is impossible to shoot two bows and arrows at the same time so this is clearly not a pictograph, but rather a combined symbol used as part of a Indus writing system. See also The Evolution of Indus Script.