The Indus Valley civilization flourished in what is now Pakistan and northwestern India from about 2500 B.C. to about 1700 B.C. Sculptures have survived from the major areas of this civilization, including such centres as Lothal, Rupar, and Maheshwar. The two main sites of the Indus Valley civilization, however, were along the Indus River--the cities of Harappa in the north and Mohenjo-Daro in the south. Indus sculptures include small stone tablets that were used as seals, and figures of animals, human beings, and deities.
The seals show the rounded forms of bulls, elephants, and rhinoceroses, along with writing in picture-like signs. The illustration of the seal carved with the figure of a unicorn shows the delicate intaglio carving. When stamped in wet clay, the seal created a raised image of itself in the clay.
The limestone torso of a god is believed to represent a friendly god. The rhythmic repetition of the curving lines of the torso shows a love of linear rhythm. Indus sculptors also stressed harmonized forms, as shown in the way the torso is unified by the softly swelling curves of the body. The sculptor has carefully rounded these curves, especially the abdomen. This emphasis on harmonized forms appeared later as a dominant characteristic of Indian sculpture.
The bronze Statuette of a girl may represent a dancer who has paused between movements. The dynamic quality of this sleek figure is partly due to the rhythmic, angular thrusts of her arms, legs, and torso. The sculptor has also indicated movement by contrasting the linear rhythms of the torso and legs against the triangular right arm and the forward left leg. A similar linearity and dynamism characterized much later Indian sculpture.
The peak of Indus Valley sculpture extended from 2500 to 2000 B.C. Sculptors worked in stone, metal, and clay. Stone seals and the few surviving three-dimensional stone sculptures represent their subjects realistically and apparently had religious meaning. The discovery of statues, figurines of men and women in terracotta, stone and metal indicates that people of the area were great artists and sculptors. Sculpture in Stone Among the stone images found in Harappa two statues are noteworthy. One of these is artistically decorated while the other is kept naked. The first statue is that of a yogi, draped in a shawl worn over the left shoulder and under the right arm. His beard is well kept and his eyes are half closed.
The other figure is a torso of a human male. It is a beautiful piece of sculpture made of red stone. The head and arms of the figure were carved separately and socketed into holes drilled in the torso. Sculpture in Metal The Harappan artists knew the art of bronze casting. They used the special lost wax process in which the wax figures were covered with the coating of clay. Then the wax was melted by heating and the hollow mould thus created was filled with molten metal which took the original shape of the object.
A figure of a female naked dancer was found at Mohenjo-daro. Necklaces adorn her breast. One of her arms is fully covered with bangles made of bone and ivory. Her eyes are large, nose is flat and lips are pendulous. Her hair is braided and her head is slightly thrown back. Her limbs suggest graceful lines. Besides the figurine, the bronze figure of a buffalo and a humped bull are very artistically designed. Sculpture in Terracotta The Indus Valley people practiced sculpture in terracotta. The terracotta figure of the Mother Goddess was discovered in Mohenjo-daro. The figure, with a punched nose and artistic ornamentation laid on the body and pressed on the figure, shows the Mother Goddess as the symbol of fertility and prosperity.
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