The Arts of the Indus Valley - Seeker's Thoughts

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The Arts of the Indus Valley


The Arts of the Indus Valley

Indus Valley art displays an outstanding sense of design. Glyptic seals show exquisite miniature art skills.


Mohenjo-daro's terracotta statues were crude, while those at Gujarat sites and Kalibangan became increasingly realistic, depicting gods such as the bearded male deity and mother goddess as well as toys such as toy carts.


Stone and Metal Sculpture


At major sites of Indus Valley Civilization, sculpture in both stone and metal is well represented. Most stone carvings depict animals or humans; elephants were particularly beloved symbols of power and strength among its people; also depicted was Goddess Durga's vahana: lion. Many other creatures also made appearances.

Human figurines like those found in Mesopotamia were an integral part of Indus Valley culture. It's thought these figures may have played a religious role and may have symbolized fertility for female figures and virility in male ones.

Bronze was an extremely popular material in the Indus Valley. A number of human and animal figures crafted out of this metal have been discovered at Mohenjo-Daro, Lothal, and Kalibangan. Additionally, its use was common for creating jewelry of both genders such as earrings and bracelets.

One of the best-known pieces from Indus Valley art, an intriguing bronze statue depicting a dancing girl has been attributed to this period. Her long hair is neatly pulled back into a bun, she wears an amulet with cowrie shells around its neck, and there are arm bangles to complete her outfit.

Terracotta was another significant material used by Indus Valley people for sculpture. Figures depicting mother goddesses are especially impressive; morelifelike statues exist of males and females as well as toys, gamesmen, whistles, rattles, birds and animals etc.

Numerous seals composed of both steatite and other materials have been discovered in the Indus Valley, both commercially or for identification purposes, but may have also served other functions.

Pottery was an integral component of daily life in the Indus Valley, both functionally and aesthetically. Alongside plain ware, there are also beautiful examples of gray ware and red ware pieces adorned with paintings.

The Indus Valley Civilization is widely recognized as one of the oldest civilizations on earth. Though its ancient languages remain undeciphered, archaeologists are uncovering its rich and sophisticated society through excavations at major cities like Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan as well as Lothal Surkotada Dholavira Ropar in India.


Terracotta Sculpture


Bronze casting was another prominent activity among all major centers of Indus Valley Civilisation, as evidenced by figures at Lothal, Mohenjo-Daro and Kalibangan excavation sites. To create these figures, wax figures were covered with thin layers of clay which was later removed to reveal hollow interior molds where molten metal would be filled to complete them. One impressive bull figure from Mohenjo-Daro stands out due to its ability to convey both massiveness and power of attack with great realism.

Terracotta sculptures depict not only gods and deities, but also animals, birds and people with their belongings - as well as utilitarian objects like toy carts with wheels, whistles, rattles, gamesmen and discs.

Female figurines found at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro excavation sites display an advanced level of skill, particularly when depicting facial expressions. One four-inch copper figure found at Mohenjo-Daro is notable as it represents all the details of an 18 year-old wearing a long skirt while clasping both hands clasped together in dance gestures with right hand placed on hip, left clasp clasped together as part of her left arm, with bangles covering arms and cowry shell necklace adorning her neck adornment.

Figurines depicting men are less plentiful among Indus Valley excavation sites, but when discovered they display similar levels of sophistication. Like their Mesopotamian counterparts, these figurines likely served ceremonial functions related to male fertility or virility and fertility celebrations.

Mohenjo-Daro's best-known terracotta statue depicting Mother Goddess was unearthed at Mohenjo-Daro and featured a basic standing figure dressed in loin robe and carrying a grid over her head; her large breasts are decorated with jewellery dangling down below. Furthermore, animal figurines found at excavation sites stand out due to their precision and artistry - they accurately convey movement, posture and coloration while depicting animal features such as colors or markings on them.



Seals from Indus Valley civilization are among the most intriguing finds from this civilization, as these carved stones were used to imprint soft clay packages with an impression from them and send out goods across regions and the world for trade. Their usage shows evidence of early writing developed in Indus Valley peoples; scholars have yet to decipher its pictographic script engraved onto these seals.

Seals crafted of soapstone (steatite), gold, silver and faience showed animal imagery, human figures and gods depictions, symbols that could not yet be deciphered as well as unreadable inscriptions. Furthermore, there is evidence that many city dwellers worked as artisans.

Seals were likely used primarily as trade stamps, though they could also mark jars or bags of grains with their impressions and fabric on their backs. Jar handles that feature seal impressions suggest this may have happened regularly while their inscriptions and animal emblems suggest their attachment to specific merchant guild shipments.

Seals found at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro are believed to have been attached to trade packets sent out of these cities to cities throughout central India and Mesopotamia, suggesting that the Indus Valley was an active commercial hub that connected regions around the globe through its ports' trading network.

Seals were often decorated with images depicting a single-horned bull, which has come to represent Agni, the Hindu god of fire and protector of humans. This motif has come to symbolize Agni as well.

Other popular motifs were elephants, rhinoceroses, bison and tigers - and seals with half animal and half human images! Most seals have animal motifs on one side while pictographic Indus scripts appeared on the reverse - these scripts could even be read bidirectionally as read from right to left then left to right on successive lines of text.


Indus Valley people created ornaments and jewelry from bronze, gold, terracotta and clay; as well as modeling animals and scenes of everyday life in clay. Terracotta sculptures tend to be less realistic and cruder in style than bronze ones but still give insight into daily life among their community - this includes female figurines performing choreographed dance movements; priest-king images depicted with bronze images; toys like chariots, discs whistles rattles bird figurines gamesmen figures etc.

Historians have divided the Indus Valley art tradition into four periods, beginning with its food processing stage (7000-5500 B.C), proceeding through regionalisation (5500-2600 B.C), integration (2600-1300 B.C) and localisation (1300 B.C). Each era witnessed significant shifts in artistic styles as well as the establishment of complex civilizations.

Ceramics from the Indus Valley Civilization are typically composed of steatite, a fine-grained mineral similar to soapstone that can be etched or engraved with great precision. Steatite is soft yet malleable enough for carving; cracking or breaking are unlikely, enabling intricate inlays.

Excavations at sites from Lothal in the north to Mohenjo-daro in the south has unearthed an impressive selection of vessels spanning a variety of shapes and sizes from ceramic vessels dated back to Early Harappan phase to later forms and colors, suggesting the introduction of new materials such as clay containing iron oxide or copper oxide additions.

Pottery of this period was produced using various techniques, some of which have been reconstructed. A range of designs are present including floral motifs and geometric patterns using different glazes as well as metallic gilding and organic and inorganic paints being frequently employed.

As with other sites in the Indus Valley, Indus Valley sites have yielded numerous pieces of jewellery such as rings, pendants and beads that have been discovered therein. Most often these are rather simple designs but more elaborate pieces exist such as bracelets and bangles with multiple colors; many even bear engravings with names of their wearers or family members.

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