Select Page




The Priest-King, in Pakistan sometimes King-Priest is a small male figure sculpted in steatite and excavated in Mohanjodaro, a ruined Bronze Age city in Sindh, now in Pakistan, in 1925–26. It is “the most famous stone sculpture” of the Indus Valley Civilization. The sculpture is incomplete, broken off at the bottom, and possibly unfinished. Originally it was presumably larger and probably was a full-length seated or kneeling figure.  As it is now, it is 17.5 centimetres (6.9 in) high and is dated to around 2000–1900 BCE, in Mohenjo-Daro’s Late Period. The Priest-King is now in the collection of the National Museum of Pakistan, Karachi, catalogued as NMP 50-852.

Priest/king (courtesy:

Humped Bull

Humped bull figurine from Mohenjo-Daro with a moulded head that is twisted to the side, and a mould used to make the head. The legs were made separated rather than being joined together. Hand-formed body and attached head. Eyes are carved with appliqué pupils as on the large hollow bull figurines.

Humped bull (courtesy:

Figurine – Dimensions: 5.23 cm height, 8.59 cm length, 2.92 cm width Mohenjo-Daro, MD 832.

Mother goddess

Early Harappans used the plough and oxcart; indeed, all their basic crafts were well-developed. In practical respects, South Asia villages have changed little until very recently. We can probably expect the same to be true of religion since folk religion in all cultures is notably conservative. Speaking of Gujarat, a nineteenth-century scholar noted: ‘Every village has its own special guardian mother, called Mata or Amba’ – some 140 different ‘mothers’ in all. ‘Generally, there is also a male deity, who protects like the female from all adverse and demoniacal influences. But the mother is the favourite object of adoration. The same held true in India at large, not least in the Dravidian-speaking south India. In every village, the mother goddess personified the place and its soil, out of which her cult images were made by the local potter. She was prayed to for blessings such as children, good health, and animals, but also feared, for she could bring about terrible calamities such as a pestilence if she were neglected or angered.”

Images of Female Figurines found at Harappa. 1. One female figurine has a choker, a necklace, and bangles on the left upper and lower arm, all painted white. The white bangles may represent shell bangles. 2. “Fat” female figurines holding infants at her breast. 3. Female figurine (H2000-4997/9811-02) from Trench 43. 4. Female figurine (H2000-4993/9845-07) from Trench 43.

Mother goddess (courtesy:

Terracotta toy carts

Terracotta toy carts from the Harappan period site of Nausharo in Baluchistan. Holes along the length of the cart serve to hold wooden side bars and at the centre of the cart two of the wooden side bars can be extended below the frame to hold the axle. A long stick inserted into the holes at the end of the cart would have been used to support a yoke. The two wheels were found lying next to the cart frame. Period III, Harappan, 2300-2200 B. C. Similar carts are still used in rural areas of Pakistan and India.

Material: terracotta
Dimensions:Larger cart-17cm length,8cm width,1.2cm thickness;Wheel-7cm dia.,1.2cm thickness
Nausharo, NS/88/IV [Accession Number with year]
Department of Archaeology, Karachi, EBK 6916
Jarrige 1990: XVa

Toy cart (courtesy:

Ox- or water buffalo-drawn cart with driver from Harappa 

Terracotta figurines have long been considered toys, often without question. Other objects such as carts, wheels, and charpoi (cots) made of terracotta at a similar scale may reinforce this interpretation for at least some of the terracotta figurines. Several styles of carts as well as wheels made of terracotta have been found at Harappa. These were probably originally held together by wooden components that have not been preserved. These terracotta carts are very similar to carts drawn by oxen or water buffalo today in South Asia. A realistic scene can easily be created with the addition of anthropomorphic figurines representing human drivers accompanied by miniature pottery and bundles of straw.

Ox- or water buffalo-drawn cart with driver from Harappa (courtesy:

Three markhor figurine heads from Harappa

In addition to domestic animals, wild animals such as the markhor (wild goat) are represented in the corpus of Indus figurines. The markhor figurines’ distinctive long spiral horns were formed by wrapping the clay around a stick or rod while it was wet. Some markhor figurines from Harappa have holes at the bases of finished necks, probably for joining them to a separate body.

Approximate dimensions (W x H(L) x D) of the uppermost figurine: 10.9 x 2.9 x 2.9 cm.

Markhor heads from harappa.jpg

Dancing Girl

The dancing girl is a prehistoric bronze age sculpture made in lost wax casting about c. 2300–1750 BC in the Indus Valley Civilisation city of Mohenjodaro (in modern-day Pakistan), which was one of the earliest cities. The statue is 10.5 centimetres (4.1 in) tall, and depicts a nude young woman or girl with stylized ornaments, standing in a confident, naturalistic pose. Dancing Girl is highly regarded as a work of art.

The statue was excavated by British archaeologist Ernest Mackay in the “HR area” of Mohenjo-Daro in 1926, It is now in the National Museum, New Delhi; having been allocated to India at the Partition of India in 1947.

Dancing girl (courtesy:

Male torso from Harappa

The male torso of polished red limestone 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.

Male torso (courtesy:


Archaeologists have discovered thousands of seals, mostly 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, made from steatite. Every seal is engraved in a pictographic script which is yet to be deciphered. Some seals have also been found in ivory. 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. Sometimes 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 a female deity. This seal 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. In addition to these animals, two antelopes are shown below the seat. Seals such as these date from between 2500 and 1900 BCE and were found in considerable numbers in sites such as the ancient city of Mohenjodaro 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. Unlike inscriptions on seals which vary in each case, inscriptions on the copper tablets seem to be associated with the animals portrayed on them.

Steatite seal from Mohenjodaro, Indus Valley Civilization (courtesy: National Museum Delhi)