Arts of Indus Valley Terracotta Sculpture & Pottery

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  • The Indus Valley people made terracotta images
Terracotta for Indian Culture
  • Compared to the stone and bronze statues the terracotta representations of human form are crude in the Indus Valley.
  • more realistic in Gujarat sites and Kalibangan.
  • most important among the Indus figures are those representing the mother goddess.
  • Also find a few figurines of bearded males with coiled hair, their posture rigidly upright, legs slightly apart, and the arms parallel to the sides of the body which represents as a deity.
  • A terracotta mask of a horned deity has also been found.
  • Toy carts with wheels, whistles, rattles, birds and animals, gamesmen and discs were also rendered in terracotta.
  • Seals Archaeologists have discovered thousands of seals, usually made of steatite, and occasionally of agate, chert, copper, faience and terracotta, with beautiful figures of animals, such as unicorn bull, rhinoceros, tiger, elephant, bison, goat, buffalo, etc.
  • The realistic rendering of these animals in various moods is remarkable.
  • The purpose of producing seals was mainly commercial.
  • It appears that the seals were also used as amulets, carried on the persons of their owners, perhaps as modern-day identity cards.
  • The standard Harappan seal was a square plaque 2 × 2 square inches, usually made from the soft river stone, steatite.
  • Every seal is engraved in a pictographic script which is yet to be deciphered.
  • They all bear a great variety of motifs, most often of animals including those of the bull, with or without the hump, the elephant, tiger, goat and also monsters.
  • Trees or human figures were also depicted.
  • The most remarkable seal is the one depicted with a figure in the centre and animals around.
  • This seal is generally identified as the Pashupati Seal by some scholars whereas some identify it as the female deity depicts a human figure seated cross-legged.
  • An elephant and a tiger are depicted to the right side of the seated figure, while on the left a rhinoceros and a buffalo are seen.
  • animals two antelopes are shown below the seat.
  • Seals such as these date from between 2500 and 1500 BCE and were found in considerable numbers in sites such as the ancient city of Mohenjo-Daro in the Indus Valley.
  • Figures and animals are carved in intaglio on their surfaces.
  • Square or rectangular copper tablets, with an animal or a human figure on one side and an inscription on the other, or an inscription on both sides have also been found.
  • The figures and signs are carefully cut with a burin.
  • These copper tablets appear to have been amulets.


  • The Indus Valley pottery consists chiefly of very fine wheel made wares, very few being hand-made.
  • Plain pottery is more common than painted ware.
  • Plain pottery is generally of red clay, with or without a fine red or grey slip which includes knobbed ware, ornamented with rows of knobs.
  • The black painted ware has a fine coating of red slip on which geometric and animal designs are executed in glossy black paint.
  • Polychrome pottery is rare and mainly comprises small vases decorated with geometric patterns in red, black, and green, rarely white and yellow.
Pottery with Geometric Patterns for Indian Culture
  • Incised ware is also rare and the incised decoration was confined to the bases of the pans, always inside and to the dishes of offering stands.
  • Perforated pottery includes a large hole at the bottom and small holes all over the wall, and was probably used for straining liquor.
  • Pottery for household purposes is found in as many shapes and sizes as could be conceived of for daily practical use.
  • Straight and angular shapes are an exception, while graceful curves are the rule.

Miniature vessels, mostly less than half an inch in height are, particularly, so marvellously crafted as to evoke admiration.

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