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Pictorials in inscriptions of the Harappan script

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Pictorials convey messages as do signs on inscriptions:

   

Mohenjodaro seal (M-271) without any sign

Mohenjodaro seal (M-1171) without any sign

Mohenjodaro seal (M-1170)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-1162)[ligatured ‘man’ and ‘comb’: sign 38 Mahadevan]

Mohenjodaro seal (M-831)
 

Mohenjodaro seal (M-324) with a hole drilled through the side to hold a cord

Harappa seal (H-94)

Mohenjodaro seall (M-887)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-1176)

 Harappa seal (H-93)

Kalibangan seal (K-49)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-1168)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-328)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-751)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-810)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-273)

Kalibangan tablet in bas relief (K-67)

Kalibanganl seal (K-26)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-272)

 

 

Kalibangan seal (K-27)

Kalibangan seal (K-34)

Kalibangan seal (K-37)

Banawali seal (B-5)

Banawali seal (B-7)

Banawali seal (B-11)

Banawali seal (B-15)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kalibangan seal (K-20)

Kalibangan seal (K-32)

Kalibangan seal (K-33)

Kalibangan seal (K-39)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-978)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mohenjodaro seal (M-262)

Chanhudaro seal (C-17)[Two or three signs]

Banawali seal (B-3)[Two or three signs]

Mohenjodaro seal (M-884)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-977)

 

Mohenjodaro seal (M-264)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-915)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-227)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-229)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-762)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-1118)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banawali seal (B-9)

Banawali seal (B-10)

Banawali seal (B-12)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-973)

 

Mohenjodaro seal (M-225)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-224)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-223)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-219)

Banawali seal (B-4)

Mohenjodaro seal; Marshall’s report, 1931: Pl. CX, No.26); cf. the ‘hoof’ sign

Mohenjodaro seal (M-216)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-215)

 

Mohenjodaro seal (M-208)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-207)

 

 

 

Mohenjodaro seal (M-1128)

 

 

 

Mohenjodaro seal (M-969)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-189)[two or three signs?]

Mohenjodaro seal (M-190)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-193)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-197)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-838)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-830)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-186)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-749)

Kalibangan seal (K-50)

Kalibangan cylinder seal (K-65)

 

Mohenjodar seal (M-188)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-182)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-180)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-179)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-178)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-898)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-953)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-821)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-952)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-842)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-939)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-1000)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-150)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-1179)[two signs plus a human-faced markhor]

Mohenjodaro seal (M-155)[three signs incldg. A long linear stroke]

Mohenjodaro seal (M-729)

 

Kalibangan seal (K-17)

Kalibangan seal (K-19)

Kalibangan seal (K-20)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-731)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-938)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-741)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-991)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-1092)

Banawali seal (B-8)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-982)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-925)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-649)
 

 

 

Mohenjodaro seal (M-637)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-704)

Lothal seal (L-16)

Harappa seal (H-81)

Harappa seal (H-79)

Harappa seal (H-73)[Note: the ‘water carrier’ pictogram]

Harappa seal (H-69)

Harappa seal (H-67)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-916)

Harappa seal (H-38)

Harappa seal (H-37)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-846)

Harappa seal (H-32)

Mohenjodaro seal (M-673)

Harappa seal (H-9)

 

 

Trough motif appears before many animals: rhinoceros, tiger, bison etc. This motif should, therefore,be recognized as an important pictorial component of the inscriptions.

Dotted circles appear on all sides of a seal or tablet (for e.g., M-352, M-1256, M-1260, H-128) or get inscribed on the ‘cult object’. Three dotted circles appear on the robe of the sculpture in the round of ‘robed priest’. A dotted circle is also depicted as the eye of a fish or hare (Fish: H-329, H-330 and Hare: H-335).
 

Repetitive pairs or duplicated signs in inscriptions

The following are examples of repetititve occurrence of the same sign in the same inscription. Some of these signs are also ligatured to other signs. Triple or quadruple repetitions may be numerical interpretations.

 

 

 

There are stable pairs of signs in inscriptions. The following seven pairs have between 93 and 291 occurrences in the inscriptions.

 

 

 

 

There are pairs with between 65 and 87 occurrences in the inscriptions.

 

 

 

 

 

A characteristic feature of the use of graphemes in the inscriptions is ‘ligaturing’. Sign 418 seems to be a ligature of signs 171, 15 and 274.

Sign 15 itself seems to be a ligature of signs 12 and 342.

 

Sign 45 (seated person) seems to ligature the sign 328,.

Sign 355 seems to ligature sign 347 and sign 391.

Sign 232 seems to be a liagure of sign 230 and sign 326.

 

 

Sign 243 (Mohenjodaro seal, M952) seems to ligature sign 242 and sign 328.
 

 
 

Inscribed objects
 
 


 


Mohenjodaro, tablet in bas-relief; three sides of a prism (M-488); Mohenjodaro, seal (M-310): tiger, tree and the ‘temple’ sign.
 


 

Kalibangan tablet in bas relief (K-68)

Mohenjodaro (M-1186) seal: An anthropomorphic figure kneels in front of a ‘fig’ tree with hands raised; another anthropomorphic figure stands inside the ‘fig’ tree. Both the anthropomorphic figures wear ‘horned crowns’. On a stool beneath the ‘fig’ tree, a human head is placed; the hair of this head is bound into a double-bun (similar to the hairstyle on the electrum helmet excavated at the Royal cemetery at Ur, suggesting a ‘warrior’) The personage within the fig tree has armlets on both the hands. There is a kneeling person with a ‘fig’ tree head-dress similar to the one worn by the personage inside the ‘fig’ tree; there is also a markhor goat. In the lower register, there are seven anthropomorphic figures, wearing their hair in a single long plait and dressed in skirts.

Sumerian electrum helmet from the Royal cemetery at Ur (tomb PG/755); early dynastic III period, c. 2400 B.C.. After Pritchard, James,1969, The ancient Near East in pictures, relating to the Old Testament, 3rd. edn., Princeton,: 49, no.160.

 

 
Mohenjodaro Tablet in bas relief (M-459); Dholalviar ringstone used as foundation-stone for pillar.

Iconography of ‘unicorn’; the head and neck are decorated in three different styles: a collar, a hatched face and a hatched neck; the hatched face style is associated with Harappa and Sarasvati sites; collared neck style is found around Mohenjodaro: Paul C. Rissman, 1989, The organization of seal production in the Harappan Civilization, in: Jonathan Mark Kenoyer Ed., Old Problems znd New Perspectives in the Archaeology of South Asia, Madison, Wisconsin Archaeological Reports, 2: 159-70
 

Sumerian Tel Asmar (Mesopotamia) seal impression (Sarasvati seal style); the animals are: rhinoceros, elephant and gavial (fish-eating alligator); glazed steatite, height 3.4 cm.; cylinder seal rolled over wet clay (Frankfort, ‘The Indian civilization and the near East, Annual Bibliography of Indian Archaeology, 1932, p.3, and pl.1)

 Sumerian Jemdet Nasr seal with 13 unicorns (Sarasvati seal style)(Frankfort, ‘The Indian civilization and the near East, Annual Bibliography of Indian Archaeology, 1932, p.3, and pl.1)
 
 
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