Harappa Re­vis­ited

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Stamp seal and modern im­pres­sion: uni­corn and in­cense burner (?)

Pe­riod: Ma­ture Harap­pan Date: ca. 2600–1900BC Ge­og­ra­phy: In­dus Val­ley Cul­ture: In­dus

Medium: Burnt steatite Di­men­sions: 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 x 3/8 in. (3.8 x 3.8 x 1 cm) Stone-Stamp Seals-In­scribed

Credit Line: Dodge Fund, 1949 Ac­ces­sion Num­ber: 49.40.1

On view at The Met Fifth Av­enue in Gallery 403

Stamp seals were used in an­tiq­uity as marks of own­er­ship and badges of sta­tus. In the large ur­ban cen­tres of the Harap­pan civil­i­sa­tion, hun­dreds of square-shaped stamp seals were found in ex­ca­va­tions. They are en­graved with im­ages of wild or do­mes­tic an­i­mals, hu­mans, fan­tas­tic crea­tures, and pos­si­bly di­vini­ties. In this ex­am­ple, the crea­ture is ren­dered in the typ­i­cal strict be an al­tar. Its shoul­der is cov­ered by a dec­o­rated quilt or har­ness in the shape of an up­side-down heart pat­tern. Most of the square stamp seals have in­scrip­tions along the top edge. The In­dus script, in­vented around 2600BC, is yet to be fully de­ci­phered.

Bowl with painted dec­o­ra­tion

Pe­riod: Early Harap­pan

Date: ca. early to mid-3rd mil­len­nium BC Ge­og­ra­phy: In­dus Re­gion, Damb Sadaat Cul­ture: In­dus

Medium: Ce­ramic, paint Di­men­sions: 6.02 in. (15.29 cm) Ce­ram­ics-Ves­sels Credit Line: Rogers Fund and Pur­chase, Joseph Pulitzer Be­quest, by ex­change, 1957

Ac­ces­sion Num­ber: 57.99.2

On view at The Met Fifth Av­enue in Gallery 403

Damb Sadaat, lo­cated in Baluchis­tan, was out­side the area con­trolled by the cities of the In­dus Val­ley. Sim­i­lar­i­ties in ce­ramic form and de­sign, how­ever, show that th­ese ar­eas were in con­tact dur­ing the mid­dle and late third mil­len­nium BC.

Wo­man Rid­ing Two Brah­man Bulls

Pe­riod: late Har­ra­pan pe­riod Date: 2000–1750BC

Cul­ture: In­dia (Kausambi) Medium: Bronze Di­men­sions: H. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm); W. 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm); D. 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm) Sculp­ture

Credit Line: Gift of Jonathan and Jean­nette Rosen, 2015 Ac­ces­sion Num­ber: 2015.505

On view at The Met Fifth Av­enue in Gallery 234

This re­mark­able ob­ject is the old­est bronze ob­ject in the Mu­seum’s In­dian col­lec­tions, and is a rare sur­vivor of the early bronze cul­ture asso­ciated with the late Harap­pan civil­i­sa­tion shared across north­ern In­dia and the In­dus Val­ley (Pak­istan) in the sec­ond mil­len­nium BC.

Two humped (‘Brah­man’) bulls sup­port a plat­form on which is a wo­man is kneel­ing. Her hands rest on the bulls’ humps. The ensem­ble is on a rec­tan­gu­lar plat­form, which has been sep­a­rately cast. The wo­man has a slen­der physique, pointed breasts, and hair that extends to her shoulders. She wears a small cir­cu­lar eye sock­ets and an in­cised mouth. The this pe­riod and later.

Pe­riod: Ma­ture Harap­pan

Date: ca. 2600–1900BC Ge­og­ra­phy: In­dus Val­ley Cul­ture: In­dus

Medium: Mar­ble Di­men­sions: L. 28 cm Stone-Sculp­ture Credit Line: Pur­chase, Anony­mous Gift and Rogers Fund, 1978 Ac­ces­sion Num­ber: 1978.58

On view at The Met Fifth Av­enue in Gallery 403

This pow­er­ful sculp­ture rep­re­sents a the high­land re­gions of the Near East. The an­i­mal’s head, now par­tially bro­ken away, is held up­ward and is twisted to the right, cre­at­ing an im­pres­sion of alert­ness. The artist has achieved a re­al­is­tic rendering of an an­i­mal at rest, its weight thrown fully onto its left haunch, and its left hind leg tucked un­der its body. The bot­tom of the statue has been worn away, but it is likely that the hid­den leg was orig­i­nally in­di­cated there. The en­tire body is con­tained within a sin­gle un­bro­ken out­line. The horns, ears, tail, and mus­cles were mod­elled in re­lief, al­though time and sec­ondary right side. This com­bi­na­tion of closed out­line with broadly mod­elled masses and a min­i­mum of in­cised de­tail is char­ac­ter­is­tic of an­i­mal sculp­ture from the Harap­pan-pe­riod lev­els at the site of Mo­henjo-daro in the lower reaches of the In­dus River. The func­tion of th­ese an­i­mal sculp­tures is un­known.

In al­most all In­dus val­ley ex­ca­va­tions and sites, bull seals were mainly re­ported from Mo­henjo-daro and Harappa.

Moha sym­bol­ises the never-dy­ing pas­sion to cre­ate an en­dur­ing legacy of art, crafts and cul­ture of In­dia. The sil­ver jew­ellery brand by Gee­tan­jali G, founder and cre­ative head of Moha, in­ter­laces th­ese el­e­ments in her so­phis­ti­cated de­signs time and again. Her past se­ries on Goa is a re ec­tion of her at­tempt to tell a story of the in­ter­est­ing cul­ture. The lat­est one fo­cuses on Harappa, the old­est civil­i­sa­tion of In­dia.

THE MAK­ING

The Harap­pan era dates from 2500–1700BC, and the south­ern sites ex­tend­ing to the Gulf of Kham­bat, up to the 2nd mil­len­nium BC. Jew­ellery based on an­cient ob­jects can be an ar­du­ous task, es­pe­cially if one wants to make it rel­e­vant to to­day’s gen­er­a­tion and life­style.

“It took more than one and a half years of de­sign­ing, re­search and long meet­ings with his­to­ri­ans to un­der­stand the sym­bolic mean­ing of each form,” re­veals Gee­tan­jali. “A lot of ef­fort and thought has gone be­hind each beau­ti­fully crafted piece from this col­lec­tion. Arte­facts un­earthed from ex­ca­va­tions at var­i­ous Harap­pan sites were my in­spi­ra­tion. Mo­tifs seen on Harap­pan pot­tery, seals, gurines as well as Harap­pan jew­ellery, the stones and metal beads were stud­ied, in­ter­preted and recre­ated as part of the nal work. Ev­ery sin­gle piece has been de­signed, hand­crafted, some­times re­worked from scratch through mul­ti­ple tri­als. Re­viv­ing ob­jects from this iconic col­lec­tion was a fas­ci­nat­ing chal­lenge and a dream for all of us.”

Check out th­ese ar­che­typal Harap­pan ob­jects and mo­tifs that were re­vived in the col­lec­tion:

THE BULL SEAL

Found abun­dantly in al­most all In­dus val­ley ex­ca­va­tions and sites, bull seals were mainly re­ported from Mo­henjo-daro and Harappa. Ac­cord­ing to art his­to­ri­ans, the stone carved form of the seal stood as a sym­bol for pow­er­ful clans. The seal de­picts a ‘zebu’ bull with a hump, a sym­bol of male fer­til­ity and vi­tal­ity. Some his­to­ri­ans be­lieve that it could have been a sacri cial an­i­mal and also wor­shipped. The ev­i­dence of this seal is seen widely on Harap­pan pot­tery, gurines and on many other ob­jects.

Some of the sil­ver ear­rings and pen­dant neck­laces from the Harappa col­lec­tion de­pict the bull seals ac­com­pa­nied by lapis lazuli.

Ac­cord­ing to art his­to­ri­ans, the stone carved form of the seal stood as a sym­bol for pow­er­ful clans.

Moha sym­bol­ises the never-dy­ing pas­sion to cre­ate an en­dur­ing legacy of art, crafts and cul­ture of In­dia.

SINDHU NARI

The bronze gurine, or the danc­ing girl, is the most well­known arte­fact found at Mo­henjo-daro. The gurine is draped with jew­ellery – from oral neck­lace, bracelets, shell-like ban­gles, to arm­lets and an­klets. Ex­ca­vated graves of Harap­pan civil­i­sa­tion re­ported sim­i­lar jew­ellery, es­pe­cially the shell and metal ban­gles. “To us, she rep­re­sents the de ni­tive fe­male form of Harap­pan civil­i­sa­tion, and hence we chris­tened her Sindhu Nari,” notes Gee­tan­jali. The Sindhu Nari is de­picted in the Harappa col­lec­tion ear­rings teamed with lapis lazuli and pen­dant neck­laces.

ATYP­I­CAL BEADS

Gee­tan­jali states, “Along with in­cor­po­rat­ing the Harap­pan de­signs in sil­ver, each and ev­ery bead used in the Harappa col­lec­tion has been cut and pol­ished by An­war Sheikh Hus­sain, a na­tional-award win­ning gem and bead cut­ter. The en­tire bead-mak­ing process took eight months as it re­quired spe­cial skills to cre­ate cuts that re­sem­ble the ones found at the Harap­pan ex­ca­va­tion sites. Many shapes and cuts of car­nelian, jasper, lapis lazuli and agate stones were spe­cially cre­ated for this col­lec­tion – par­tic­u­larly, the 4-inch long tube beads holed through the en­tire length that were used in Harap­pan jew­ellery. Re­viv­ing a 5,000-year-old craft was very chal­leng­ing, but I’m satis ed to have ac­com­plished this feat!”

The aim of this col­lec­tion is to bring aware­ness among peo­ple about the for­got­ten as­pects of the di­verse In­dian her­itage and cul­ture. “Moha’s Harappa col­lec­tion aims to serve as a trea­sured mem­ory pack­aged in a piece of jew­ellery, and above all, it shall act as a brand am­bas­sador for In­dia’s rst ur­ban civil­i­sa­tion, Harappa!” rounds off the jew­ellery artist.

FOOT­NOTE:

The Harappa col­lec­tion by Moha would not have been pos­si­ble with­out In­dol­o­gist Saili Pa­lande Datar of Her­itage In­sights, a Pune-based Her­itage In­sights works on in­no­va­tive pro­grammes and pro­cesses for

The Harap­pan era dates from 2500–1700BC, and the south­ern sites ex­tend­ing to the Gulf of Kham­bat, up to the 2nd mil­len­nium BC. Jew­ellery based on an­cient ob­jects can be an ar­du­ous task, es­pe­cially if one wants to make it rel­e­vant to to­day’s gen­er­a­tion and life­style.

Im­ages courtesy The MET

Many shapes and cuts of car­nelian, jasper, lapis lazuli and agate stones were spe­cially cre­ated for this col­lec­tion – par­tic­u­larly, the 4-inch long tube beads holed through the en­tire length that were used in Harap­pan jew­ellery.

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