Terracotta Animal Figurines SP 3390

"Animal figures, mostly in terracotta, have been found in very large numbers at Harappa. They are also fairly common in faience, specially the squirrels and rams, both of which were used as amulets. More rarely, they were made of steatite, shell and bone. Only three examples of steatite have been found, and one of each of the other materials. Harappa offers a greater variety of animal figures than those yet published from Mohenjo-daro.

By far the largest number of these pottery toys are bulls, the humped variety preponderating over the humpless ones. On the seals, however, both varieties are about evenly represented. Next to the bull comes the rhinoceros, then the goat and ram. The tiger (and perhaps lion), the elephant and pig are also depicted, but the last one does not appear to have been popular. The dog, of which there are several varieties, is fairly common. The monkey and possibly the cat are also known. Among the rodents and reptiles, squirrels, both In faience and pottery, were very popular, and the mongoose, snake, and armadillo are also found.

Among aquatic animals are the crocodile, which is commonly depicted on terracotta sealings and less frequently on those of faience, the turtle and fish, which are also represented on the seals. Among birds are the duck, peacock, hen, kite, pigeon, sparrow, dove which is almost invariably made in the form of a toy whistle (ghughu lit. a toy dove)—parrot, owl, and grasshopper.

Birds such as the goose, duck, etc., which were made with some care, were frequently holed on the underside for the separate insertion of the feet...In the finer examples of birds in terracotta, faience, or stone the wings are shown in relief, and feathers are indicated by incised lines on the surface...Birds were also coloured white, yellow, green, or red to simulate their natural hues...."

- Madho Sarup Vats, 1940. Excavations at Harappa: Being an account of archaeological excavations at Harappa carried out between the years 1920-21 and 1933-34. Volume I - Text; Volume II - 139 Plates., pg 300-301.

The terracotta figurine on the left is an animal with a double collar ornamentation. The broken projections on the head could be where the ears were or possibly horns. It is not clear if this is a dog or a bull without a hump. The figurine in the center is a one horned rhinoceros (Vats. 1940, Pl LXXIX, 76) and the broken figurine on the right appears to be of a bull with broken leg and horns missing.

- Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, 2023.

ASI Description: 

[Original caption] Terracotta figures Nos. Aa24 Ab8. and crocodile (?)

Delhi ASI Number: 
Silver Plate: