Posts relating to people, gender, artistic representations, and common types in the ancient Indus Valley Civilization.
"In January 1927, Mackay began working in L-Area, ca. 28 meters south of the Stupa on the Mound of the Great Bath. He uncovered the so-called 'Assembly Hall' and other architectural remains that are not well understood, even today. He also found three pieces of limestone sculpture: a seated torso (L-950), a reasonably well-preserved bust (L-898) and a very poor, abraded head, possibly of a woman (L-127)."
Shereen Ratnagar, in her brand new book The Magic in the Image Women in Clay at Mohenjo-daro and Harappa (soon to be reviewed here) offers an interesting conjecture around a set of male figurines found at the two iconic Indus sites.
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.
"I saw a herd of unicorns today. I write this in full possession of my senses." So begins the short story The Unicorn Expedition by the great Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray. A Professor Shanku story from the early 1960s, one of a series which reflect "my love of [Jules] Verne and [H.G.] Wells and [Sir Arthur] Conan Doyle whose works I read as a schoolboy," wrote Ray. Like anything by him, it is charming and effortless and rich and rich and starts in Mohenjo-daro.
On a visit earlier in 2019 to the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi, an iPhone camera was a welcome companion in trying to bring out something of the character of Indus figurines resident within the large glass vitrines.
Figurine with flower headdress from Harappa and a reconstructed headdress in gold found with a serving girl found with Queen Puabi at the royal burials at Ur in Mesopotamia ca. 2600 BCE. Note the carnelian beads around her neck whose only source at the time was the ancient Indus civilization. More at the video lecture Meluhha: the Indus Civilization and Its Contacts with Mesopotamia by Dr. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer.
John Marshall could hardly believe his eyes when this red jasper statuette was found by M.S. Vats at Harappa: ". . . it seemed so completely to upset all established ideas about early art. Modelling such as this was unknown to the ancient world up to the Hellenistic age of Greece, and I thought, therefore, that some mistake must surely have been made."
Movable head of a bovine figurine from Harappa. Some movable figurine heads are pierced through the horns on either side of the head. The movable heads of figurines often depict cattle. They are usually pierced laterally through the neck and vertically or sagittally through the head in order to secure them to the bodies and control them with a cord. Also a toy cart from Nausharo, a bird whistle and a complete ox or water buffalo cart with figurine.
In connection with the recent post about Indus discoveries in Oman, we note that the archaeologist who discovered the first definitive evidence of Bronze Age trade between Balochistan and the Gulf, Beatrice de Cardi, just died at the age of 102. She worked with Sir Mortimer Wheeler who lent her "his foreman, Sadar Din, a minor official of the Pakistani Archaeological Department who, despite being illiterate, had an extraordinarily retentive memory for archaeological sites and taught her what to look for. Together they located some 47 archaeological sites . . .."
Not yet absolutely clear that this is an ancient Indus-style crown, but the chances are pretty good with find first reported in August. Reports on follow-up excavations in December by A.K. Pandey of the Archaeological Survey of India suggest it really could be from ancient Indus times, though final stratigraphy is awaited. The fact that the crown includes faience and carnelian, two typical ancient Indus precious materials, is promising. The August story can be found at Archaeology News Network. Read also the December report 4,000-Year-Old Copper Crown in India and a seal example of a similar