Arts of Indus Valley Civilization (Indian Culture– NCERT)

Arts of Indus Valley Civilization

 Indus Valley Civilization Map

Indus Valley Civilization Map

Indus Valley Civilization Map

  • The arts of Indus Valley civilization was one of the earliest civilizations of the world which was arisen at the time of second and half of the third millennium (Bronze Age).

  • This civilization includes sculptures, seals, pottery, gold ornaments, terracotta figures, etc. in the art form and their details of human and animal figures was highly natural, and its figure modeling was done very carefully.

  • Indus valley civilization and the river Indus Two major sites are:

    • Harappa

    • Mohenjo-Daro

two major sites of Indus Valley Civilization Harappa and Mohanjo Daro

Indus Valley Civilization Sites

two major sites of Indus Valley Civilization Harappa and Mohanjo Daro

  • The site represents the most basic examples of civic planning.

  • In these sites houses, markets, storage facilities, offices and almost every basic thing are organized in a grid-like pattern.

  • Roads were cut crossways each other’s at 90-degree and the city was organized into blocks design and also an extremely developed drainage system.

  • Currently Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro are located in Pakistan, but some of the important sites are still exists in India and they are:

    • Lothal, Surkotada, Dholavira – Gujarat

    • Rakhigarh and Banwali – Haryana

    • Ropar – Punjab

    • Kalibangan and Balatha – Rajasthan

Materials used:

Indus Valley Civilization uses Stone, Bronze, Terracotta, Clay and many more things as row materials.

Stone Statues:

  • Indus valley site’s stone statues are outstanding examples of handling the 3D volume.

  • Two major stone statues are:

Bearded Man (Priest Man, Priest-King)

Image of Bearded Man

Bearded Man

Image of Bearded Man

  • It was found in Mohenjo-Daro and its figure made of Steatite.

  • The figure designed as a priest and it is wrapped in a shawl which is coming under the right arm and covering the left shoulder and the shawl is decorated with trefoil pattern.

  • The eyes are half closed as in a meditative concentration.

  • Nose is well shaped and medium in size.

  • And the Hair is divided from the centre and a plain Woven fillet is passes round the head.

  • An armlet on the right hand and holes around neck which suggest necklace.

  • And overall a slight touch of the Greek style of statues is display in the figure.

Male Torso

Image of Male Torso

Male Torso

Image of Male Torso

  • It was found in Harappa (only major art element found in Harappa) and made from Red Sandstone.

  • There are holes in the neck and shoulders to attach head and arms but legs are broken.

  • The shoulders are well baked and the abdomen little bulbous.

  • It shows well shaped and finished work.

Bronze Casting:

  • Bronze casting technique was widely used at all major sites of the civilization.

  • Lost Wax Technique was used for Bronze Casting.

  • Mostly Human and animal figures examples are exists of Bronze casting.

  • Among animal figures intimidate with its elevated head, back and comprehensive horns and the goat are artistic merits.

  • At the centers of Indus valley civilization Copper dog and bird of Lothal and the Bronze figure of a bull from Kalibangan protests are most popular figures of Bronze.

  • After the Indus valley Civilization through late Harappan, Chalcolithic people, etc. continued to use Mattel Casting.

  • Examples of Bronze casting are:

i. Dancing Girl

Image of Dancing Girl Mohenjo-Daro

Dancing Girl Mohenjo-Daro

Image of Dancing Girl Mohenjo-Daro

  • It was found from Mohenjo-Daro and made up of Bronze.

  • It is one of the best artifacts of Indus valley.

  • It has approximately 4-inch high figure of a dancing girl.

  • This beautiful casting shows a girl whose long hair is tied in bun and left arm covered by bangles and around the neck the cowry shell necklace is figured.

  • Right hand is on her hip and left hand is in a traditional Indian dance gesture and she has large eyes and flat nose.

ii. Bull from Mohenjo-Daro

Image of Bull from Mohenjo-Daro

Bull From Mohenjo-Daro

Image of Bull from Mohenjo-Daro

  • It was found in Mohenjo-Daro.

  • The massiveness of the bull and the anger of bull are well expressed.

  • The animal is shown as standing and its head turned to the right.

  • Around the neck there is a cord.


  • Terracotta figures are mostly found in Gujarat and Kalibangan sites.

  • Some male potteries found with coiled hairy, their posture rigidly upright, legs slightly apart, and the arms equivalent as per the sides of the body in terracotta. The representation of the figure shows that he was a deity (god).

  • A terracotta mask of a horned deity has also been found.

  • Toy carts with controls, whistles, rattles, bird and animals, gamesmen, and discs were also represented in terracotta.

  • The most significant figures of terracotta are those who represent Mother Goddess.

1. Mother Goddess

Mother Goddess founded in Mohenjo Daro

Image of Mother Goddess

Mother Goddess founded in Mohenjo Daro

  • It is mainly found in Mohenjo-Daro.

  • Usually these figures are crude standup figures.

  • It is mostly decorated with necklaces which are droopy over the prominent breast and wearing a loin cloth and a grid.

  • The fan-shaped crown with a cup like prediction on each side is only a decorative feature of the mother goddess.

  • The pellet eyes and curved nose are very simply shaped in figure and mouth is showed as a thin opening.


Arts of Indus Valley

Sample Seal From Indus Valley

Arts of Indus Valley

  • Thousands of seals were found from the sites which are generally made of steatite, and some time from agate, chert, copper, faience and terracotta, with beautiful figures of animals like unicorn bull, rhinoceros, tiger, elephant, bison, goat, buffalo, etc.

  • They were mainly used commercially and also as a good luck charm, carried on the persons of their owners, perhaps as modern identity cards.

  • The standard Harappan seal was 2 x 2 square inches in size.

  • Every seal were decorated with pictographic script which is still could be decoded.

  • Some seals were also founded in Gold and Ivory.

1. Seals of Pashupati Mahadeva

Seals of Pashupati Mahadeva of Mohenjo-Daro

Seals of Pashupati Mahadeva

Seals of Pashupati Mahadeva of Mohenjo-Daro

  • It was found in Mohenjo-Daro and shows a human figure placed cross legged.

  • An elephant and a tiger are revealed at the right side of the figure and a rhinoceros and a buffalo are seen on the left.

  • Two antelopes (deer) are presented below the seat.


  • Indus valley pottery includes very fine wares made by wheel and few handmade.

  • Plain pottery is more common compared to painted ware.

  • Mostly plain pottery is red clay with or without fine red or grey slip.

  • Pottery with the black paint has a fine covering of red slip on which geometric and animal designed are made by a glossy black paint.

1. Painted Earthen Jar

Painted Earthen Jar founded in Mohenjo daro

Painted Earthen Jar

Painted Earthen Jar founded in Mohenjo daro

  • It was found in Mohenjo-Daro and Made on a potters’ wheel with clay.

  • The shape was handed by density of the crafty fingers of the potter and painted with black colour after baking a clay model the after high polishing was done as a finishing touch.

  • The style is vegetal and geometric forms and the designs are simple.

Beads, Ornaments and Cosmetics:

  • The Harappan peoples including men and women were decorate themselves with a huge variety of ornaments such as necklaces, fillets, bangles and finger rings which are made up from every possible materials ranging from valuable metals and gemstones to bone and baked clay.

  • Jewellery such as necklaces of gold and semiprecious metal stones, copper bracelets and beads, gold earrings and head ornaments are founded form Mohenjo-Daro and Lothal.

  • Well-developed bead industries were present at Chanhudaro and Lothal and some of the bead was made of two or more stones covered together.

  • They also made models of animals, particularly monkeys and squirrels, used as pin head and beads.

  • Spinning of cotton and wool was very common at that time and men and women wore two different pieces of clothing such as dhoti and shawl.

  • Shawl covered the left bear passing below right arm. They were also aware of fashion so that different hair styles were in fashion and bread was popular.

  • They were using cinnabar as a beautifying and face-paint, lipstick and collyrium (eyeliner).