May 31, 2023
The Great Mound

The Great Mound

The Harappan Civilization, also known as the Indus Valley Civilization, is a fascinating chapter in the history of South Asia. One of the key aspects of this civilization is its housing pattern. The lower city of Harappa was home to the majority of its citizens, where they lived in blocks of houses with varying sizes. The smaller ones were single-room tenements meant for slaves, while the larger ones had courtyards and up to twelve rooms. The entrances to the houses were from narrow lanes which cut the streets at right angles, and no windows faced the street. The lower city also contained a large number of workshops.

Another significant aspect of the Harappan Civilization was their pottery. Most of it was plain, but a substantial part was treated with a red slip and black painted decoration. The shapes varied from pedestals, dishes, goblets, cylindrical vessels perforated all over, and various kinds of bowls. The uniformity in the forms and paintings on the pottery is difficult to explain, but it is believed that local potters made it. However, a variety of other kinds of potteries continued to be produced in areas like Gujarat and Rajasthan.

The Harappans also used tools and implements made of copper, bronze, and stone, which showed a striking degree of uniformity in design and production technique. They produced tools such as flat axes, chisels, knives, spearheads, arrowheads, daggers, knives, and flat tangs on a large scale in factory sites like Sukkur in Sind.

The artworks of the Harappan Civilization give us an insight into how the society viewed nature, human beings, and divinity. The most famous piece of art is the bronze dancing nude figure discovered in Mohenjodaro. The two little toy carts of bronze are also well-known objects. Terracotta figurines have been found in large numbers from the Harappan settlements and were used as toys or cult figures. The Harappans used remarkably beautiful beads made of such precious and semi-precious stones such as agate, turquoise, carnelian, and steatite. More than 2000 seals have been found from the Harappan settlements, which are considered the outstanding contribution of the Indus Civilization to ancient craftsmanship.

However, the artworks of the Harappans leave us a little disappointed on two counts: the finds are very limited in number, and they do not seem to have the variety of expression seen in the contemporary Civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Stone sculptures were rare and undeveloped compared to those fashioned by the Egyptians. The terracotta pieces also cannot compare with those of Mesopotamia in quality. It is possible that the Harappans were using less durable mediums like textile designs and paintings for their artistic expression, which have not survived.

The Harappan Civilization was an advanced and sophisticated society that left a lasting impact on the subcontinent’s history. Its housing pattern, pottery, tools, and implements, and artworks provide us with a glimpse into the lives of its people. Despite the limitations of their artistic expression, the Harappans made significant contributions to ancient craftsmanship, which continue to fascinate and inspire us today.

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