UPSC and Other State PSC SSC and Banking Gk -Arts of Indus Valley



Two major sites of Indus Valley Civilisation:

  • Harappa in North and
  • Mohenjodaro in South

These sites showcase earliest examples of civic planning, horses, market, storage facilities, and public bath. Also, statues in stone, bronze and terracotta.

Important sites in India are:

  • Lothal and Dholavira ­: Gujarat
  • Rakhigari : Haryana
  • Ropar : Punjab
  • Kalibangan and Balathal : Rajasthan
  • Daimabad : Maharashtra

Unique features of Indus Valley Art

Some of the unique features of the Indus art are discussed below:

  • Stone Statues
    • Two male figures: A torso in red sandstone; A bearded man in steatite.
    • Draped shawl decorated with trefoil patterns.
  • Bronze Casting
    • During Harappans
    • Bronze statues made using ‘lost-wax’ technique
    • The most popular is a copper statue of Dancing Girl.
  • Terracota
    • Though crude forms but realistic at Gujarat and Kalibangan sites. Representing mother goddess.
  • Seals
    • With figures of animals such as unicorn bull, rhinoceros, tiger, elephant etc.
    • Seals produced mainly for commercial purposes.
    • Pashupati Seal – Some identify it as female deity. The figure in center surrounded by animals.
  • Pottery
    • Fine wheel-made wares, plain pottery is more common than painted ones.
    • Polychrome pottery with geometrical designs.
    • Perforated pottery probably used for liquor.
  • Beads and Ornaments
    • Large variety found at Mohenjodaro & Lothal include necklaces of gold & semi-precious stones.
    • At Farmana in Haryana, dead bodies buried with ornaments.
    • Spinning of cotton & wool was very common.

Architecture in Indus Valley

The most striking feature of the Harappa and Mohejodaro is remarkable way of town planning.

Some of the important points to consider are:

  • Rectangular Grid Pattern: The towns were laid out in rectangular grid pattern. The roads ran in North-South and East-West direction. They cut each other in right angles.
  • Harappans used burnt mud bricks of standardised dimensions for the purpose of building houses, public baths and public buildings.
  • The city was divided into two parts:
    • Upraised Citadel: Here, large buildings like granaries, administrative buildings, pillared halls and courtyard were found.
    • Lower-part of city: Here, houses of the common people or village people or working people are found.
  • Advanced drainage system: Small drains from each house were connected to larger drains running alongside the main roads. Proper hygiene was maintained in both public and personal sphere.
  • Most important buildings found in excavation sites are:
    • Great bath: The public bath excavated in Mohenjodaro is the most famous. These baths had galleries and rooms.
    • Granaries: These were made to store grains. These were made on raised platforms.
    • Assembly Hall: These were made in the cities for the gathering of the people.

Sculptures of Indus Valley

The most common sculptures found during Harappan Civilization were seals, bronze figures and potteries.


  • Different types of seals are found.
  • Steatite, a soft stone, was the most common material used to make seals.
  • Other materials were agatem chert, copper, terracotta, copper, gold and ivory.
  • Pictographic script: This script is found on seals. It is written right to left on one line and left to right on next line. It is bi-directional writing style.
  • Animal Impressions: Some seals have animal motifs, some of the animals were, unicorn, humped bull, bison, ibex, elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, goat etc.
  • Half animal and half- animal images are also found on the seals.

Uses of Seals

  • For commercial purposes.
  • For using them as amulets (tabeez).
  • For educational purposes.

Bronze Figures

  • Bronze Casting
    • The bronze stateues were made using lost wax technique or Cire Perdue.
    • In this technique, wax figures are first coated with wet clay and allowed to dry. The clay coated figures are then heated, allowing the wax inside to melt. The wax is then poured out through a tiny hole and liquid metal is poured inside the hollow mould. After the metal has cooled down and solidifies, the clay coat is removed and a metal figure of the same shape as the wax figure is obtained.
  • The Dancing Girl
    • It is the world’s oldest bronze sculpture.
    • It is a statue of naked girl wearing only ornaments that are bangles and amulet and bracelet. She stands in tribhanga dancing posture.


  • Terracotta means the use of fire baked clay for making sculptures.
  • Pinching Method was used to make these figures.
  • It was used by the poor class to make toys, animal figures and miniature carts and wheels etc.
  • The Mother Goddess Figure
  • It is a figure of a standing female wearing a necklace and a fan-shaped headgear. It was probably worshipped.


Two kinds of pottery are found near the excavation site: plain potter and painted pottery.

  • Plain Pottery
    • It was used for household purposes, mainly for storage of water and grains.
    • These potteries looked inexpensive and were probably used by the lower class.
  • Painted pottery
    • It was also called Red and Black Pottery.
    • The background is of red color and glossy black color is used to make designs.
    • Animal figures, geometric patterns, trees designs were found on these potteries.
    • Miniature vessels were used for decorative purposes.
    • Some potteries have large holes on bottom and small holes across the sides. These are called Perforated potteries.

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