The Indus Script

The Indus Script

Fig Indus Tree + Crab Sign as Proto Rudra

'Fig Tree + Crab' Sign: Proto-Rudra

Fig. 4: Fig Tree + Crab Sign and Components

Parpola refers to two sets of copper tablets, both with the same inscription on one side but two different motifs on the other. One of the motifs is the 'fig tree + crab' sign (Fig.IV: Sign 124) occurring as a single sign all by itself. The other is a pictographic representation of an anthropomorphic male deity with horns and a tail, and holding a bow and arrow. This deity ('the horned archer') is identified as the Harappan predecessor of the Vedic god Rudra (euphemistically called Siva) who is described in the Vedas as a cruel hunter with bows and arrows. Parpola interprets the evidence of the copper tablets as indicating that the 'fig tree + crab' sign represents the name of the deity it replaces.

The 'crab' is interpreted here as a phonetic determinative and read as kol/kol, 'seizing, grasping (as with claws)'. The composite 'fig tree + crab' sign is then read as koli, 'fig tree which bears fruits without flowering' or 'fig tree with grasping roots'. Parpola interprets koli by rebus as the name of the deity ('horned archer') derived from kol, 'to seize,' kol, 'plunder', which is compared with Rudra's epithet Hara, (literally) 'seizer, robber'.

This composite sign occurs in three forms which Parpola regards as simple variants of a single sign (Fig. IV: Sign 124 a, d & g). However the outer U-like form has two sharply differentiated additions, either the 'fig-leaf' (sign no. 118) or the 'man' (sign no.13). Similarly the 'crab'sign has two clearly differentiated forms, either with 'feet' (sign 88a) or without (sign 88e). The two 'crab' forms occur in wholly different contexts in the seal-texts. Hence the 'fig tree + crab' forms have to be regarded as independent signs with distinct though possibly related meanings. (Compare Parpola's treatment of each 'modified fish' sign as having a distinct phonetic value.)