People

Posts relating to people, gender, artistic representations, and common types in the ancient Indus Valley Civilization.

Beatrice de Cardi, 1914-2016

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 . . .."

Red Jasper Torso, Harappa

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."

Satyajit Ray and The Unicorn Expedition

"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.

The 3 L Area Mohenjodaro Statues

5 The Stern Man of L Area, Mohenjo-daro, L 898.

"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)."

The Mother Goddess and Village Culture

Female figurine
Female figurine

"'Every village has its own special guardian mother, called Mata or Amba' - some 140 different 'mothers' in all. 'Generally there is also a male deity, who protects like the female from all adverse and demoniacal influences. But the mother is the favorite object of adoration' (Monier-Williams 1885:222). The same held true in India at large, not least in the Dravidian-speaking south India."

Men of Harappa B

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.

Ancient Female Figures and Flower Headdresses

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.

See also Harappan Female Figurine.

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