Indus Valley Civilization ( Part – 3)

  • Indus Architecture
  • The earliest remains of Indian architecture are to be found in Harappa, Mohenjodaro, Ropar, Kalibangan, Lothal and Rangpur, belonging to a civilization known as the Indus valley culture or the Harappan culture. 
  • About 5000 years ago, in the third millennium B.C. a lot of building activity went on in these areas. Town planning was excellent. Burnt brick was widely used, roads were wide and at right angles to one another, city drains were laid out with great skill and forethought, the corbelled arch and baths were constructed with knowledge and skill. 
  • But with the fragmentary remains of the buildings constructed by these people it is not yet possible to know enough about the architectural skill and tastes of the people. 
  • However, one thing is clear, the extant buildings do not give us any clue as to aesthetic considerations and there is a certain dull plainness about the architecture which may be due to their fragmentary and ruined condition. 
  • There does not appear to be any connection between the cities built in the 3rd millennium B.C., with an astonishing civic sense, of first rate well-fired brick structures, and the architecture of subsequent thousand years or so, of Indian art history, after the decline and decay of the Harappan civilization and the beginning of the historic period of Indian history, mainly the time of the great Mauryas of Magadha. 
  • These thousands years or so were a period of tremendous, intellectual and sociological activity and could not be barren of any artistic creations. 
  • However, due to the fact that during this time sculpture and architecture was utilising organic and perishable materials such as mud, mud­brick, bamboo, timber, leaves, straw and thatch, these have not survived the ravages of time.
  • Indus Sculpture
  • The beginning of stone sculpture in India goes back to a very remote age. The excavations carried out in 1924, at the ruins of Mohenjodaro on the Indus river and Harappa in the Punjab, brought to light a highly developed urban civilization, archaeologically known as the Indus Valley or Harappan Culture. 
  • It flourished from C.2500 B.C. to 1500 B.C. 
  • These ancient cities had a systematic lay-out, wide roads, spacious houses made of bricks, and an underground drainage system, somewhat like our own. 
  • People worshipped the Mother Goddess or Goddess of fertility
  • Trade and cultural contacts existed between these cities and those of Mesopotamia of which the evidence is the occurrence of the seals, as well as similar carnelian beads, knobbed pottery, etc., at both places. 
  • Clay was the earliest medium in which man began to mould and we have discovered a large number of terracotta figurines from these Indus Valley sites.
  • Among the few stone figurines, a male torso of polished red lime stone from Harappa, chiselled in the round, is remarkable for its naturalistic pose and sophisticated modelling, highlighting its physical beauty. 
  • This lovely figure makes one wonder how at that remote age, it was possible for the sculptor to carve as beautifully as was done very much later in Greece in the 5th century B.C. The head and arms of this figure were carved separately and socketed into the drilled holes of the torso.

Another noteworthy example from this urban culture is the bust portrait of a bearded nobleman or high priest, from Mohenjodaro, weaving a shawl with trefoil pattern. It bears a close resemblance to a similar figure discovered in the Sumerian sites of Ur and Susa.
Priest, Clay, Harappa, Pakistan
  • The bronze dancing girl of the same period discovered at Mohenjodaro is perhaps the greatest surviving achievement of the metal work of the Harappan age. This world-famous figure shows a female dancing figure standing as if relaxing after a dance number, with her right hand on her hip and the left dangling free. She wears a large number of bangles, probably made of bone or ivory on her left arm together with a couple of pairs on her right arm.
  • The statuette is a great masterpiece of the art of the metal craftsman of the period who knew the art of bronze casting in the cire perdue or lost-wax process.

The terracotta figure representing a bull is a forceful representation, eloquently proclaiming the special study of the anatomy of the animal by the modeller who fashioned the figure. The animal is shown standing with his head turned to the right and there is a cord around the neck.

Bull, bronze, Mohen-jo-daro, Pakistan
Seal : Pasupati, Stone, Mohen-jo-daro, Pakistan
  • This seal shows a seated figure of a Yogi, probably Shiva Pashupati, surrounded by four animals – a rhino, a buffalo, an elephant and a tiger. There are two deer shown under the throne. Pashupati means the lord of animals. This seal may throw light on the religion of the Harappan age. Most of these seals have a knob at the back through which runs a hole and it is believed that they were used by different guilds or merchants and traders for stamping purposes. When not in use they could be worn round the neck or the arm like an amulet.