Terracotta Head and Bull SP 3398

These two photographs are of two terracotta figurines, on the left is a female figurine with a scrolled headdress, and on the right is a humped bull with broken horns. In the first image (ASI no. 416/86) the human head on the left is upside down, and in the second photograph (ASI no. 423/86) the figurine was placed in the correct orientation.

It is possible that these 2 figurines were among those found in "the large earthern jar" that Sahni reports finding in the Mound F excavations.

"Four trial trenches were dug in site F in places which appeared most favourable for examination. One of them to the west of the main trench disclosed at the depth of about 8 feet a well-preserved water reservoir lined with brick and provided with a narrow covered channel (Plate XX, fig. a). By the side of the tank was standing a large earthen jar with its pointed bottom fixed in the ground. It was filled with earth in which were smaller jars and terracotta figurines." [For jar, see Slide xx]

- Daya Ram Sahni, 1926. Annual Report Of The Archaeological Survey Of India 1923-24, pg 52. Pl. XXa cited.

Terracotta figurines of women with elaborate, in this case scrolled, head gear and necklaces have been generously represented in the literature. This began with the earliest literature on the Harappan discoveries by Marshall, Mackay and others, who sought to interpret these clay figures in sacred terms and as representations of the Mother Goddess. In The Social Lives of Figurines Sharri Clark has explored the historiography of the the Mother Goddess paradigm and based on close analysis of the corpus of figurines from Harappa, calls for a more critical and contextualised comparison that includes representation, function and variation (Clark, 2016, pp. 266-280).

She cautions that "a simplistic emphasis on the reprooductive function of women in prehistoric art...discourages scholars from seeking more challenging interpretations for figurines in ancient societies." (Clark, 2016, pg. 280)

ASI Description: 

[Original caption Image 1] Terracotta head inverted and a bull

[Original caption 2] Terracotta female bust with horned and humped bull

Delhi ASI Number: 
416/86, 423/86
Silver Plate: 
3398, 3405