Harappan art and statues

Harappan art and statues

Question - How developed was the art of the Harappans?


Question - Discuss the art of Harappan culture with reference to the statues found at various sites.

The earliest recorded evidences of art in India comes from the Harappan period. The patterns and craft tradition was well established during the Indus Valley Civilization. Dancing, painting, sculpture, and music were all part of their culture, concluded by the various objects of art found at these sites. Not too many statues are found however, the ones that have been found are masterpieces with maturity in art clearly visible.

Harappan art pieces: Objects in stone, bronze and terracotta have been found. Various objects unearthed include a number of steatite seals imprinted with diverse animals like the unicorn bull, rhinoceros etc., terracotta toys, animals and figurines and painted pottery with designs of birds, flowers, leaves etc. The seals have been engraved with remarkable artistry, most of these used for commercial, ritual purposes. Beads of carnelian, lapis lazuli, agate, amethyst etc have been found abundantly along with glazed faience. Number of shell bangles with other objects of shell have been found. A host of domestic objects and ornaments made of gold and silver are found at almost every site. The Harappan people also made models of animals, specially monkeys and squirrels. These serve as the best guides for evolution of a civilization. Different types of toys suggest that children enjoyed a fun childhood.

Statuettes: Statues of women were made of terracotta with elaborate headdress which could have been that of mother goddess which were probably kept in almost every house. Repetition of a male figurine with oiled hair and arms at the side of the body seem to suggest that it was a deity.

The Dancing Girl: The best known work of art from Mohenjodaro is the bronze dancing girl and requires a special mention. The statue is devoid of clothing except for a necklace and set of bangles covering one arm. The posture is rather provocative with one arm on the hip and one leg half bent. The style of the figure indicates the concept of female beauty among the Harappans which was quite in contrast with that of later India.

Male Statues: Another of the statuettes that need a mention are the male figurines, one of a red sandstone torso and the other is the bust of a bearded man. A limestone head with wavy hair held together, shaved upper lip and shell-shaped ears, has been found at Harappa. A few more sculptures found are the seated headless male figure wearing a thin shawl on left shoulder taking it under the arm, known as the high priest, an alabaster statue of a squatting bearded man, a limestone figure having a hand on the knee and a fragment of a small limestone figure of an animal probably a ram. Two male torsos exhibiting a sense of modeling are from Harappa. One of them is ithyphallic and possibly represent Nataraja. The other figure is of a youth whose legs, hand and head are missing.

Bronze Figures: Two small bronze figurines of dancing girls, both fragmentary along with a number of bronze figures of animals are seen.


• Mohenjo-daro is the largest site and Allahdino is the smallest site of the Indus Valley Civilization.

• The Indus Valley Civilization developed the most precise measurements and used decimal system.
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