Excavations at various Indus Valley Sites have yielded a rich collection of objects in terracotta, stone and bronze. Explain while making a comparative account of these. Which of them was more popular and why?

Art and Antiquities of Indus Valley civilization includes terracotta figurines; terracotta and steatite seals adorned with illustrations, copper and bronze statuettes and stone figures.
Terracotta
There was universal popularity of terracotta figurines, whether as toys or cult objects. They are so much abundant that sometimes Indus Valley Civilization is called as Terracotta civilization. These figurines include a range of birds and animals, including monkeys, dogs, sheep, cattle (both humped and humpless bulls), human (both male and female).
Stone
Stone sculptures are least common as only a dozen pieces have come from Mohenjo-daro and two or three from Harappa. The stone employed was usually soft, steatite, limestone or alabaster. Of the two examples of stone sculpture from Harappa, the first figure is a tiny nude male torso of red sand-stone, less than four inches in height with a pendulous belly. The second figure is no larger, made of grey stone.
Terracotta
The most significant specimen of bronze sculpture from Mohenjo-daro is a little figure of a dancing girl about 4 inches in height. The head is inclined back, the eyes have a drooping quality, the right arm rests on the hip, and the left which is heavily bangled, hangs down. She is naked, except for a necklace and her hair is plaited in an elaborate manner.
Comparative Account

  • In comparison to stone and bronze sculptures, the terracotta representations of human form are crude in the Indus valley except at some sites such as Kalibangan and few in Gujarat where they are more realistic.
  • Stone sculpture was least common while terracotta figures are most abundant. Bronze comes in between.

Terracotta Art Clay was preferred over metal and stone for popular art may be because of the high plasticity of the material and low cost involved. 

Question for UPSC Mains:
Excavations at various Indus Valley Sites have yielded a rich collection of objects in terracotta, stone and bronze. Explain while making a comparative account of these. Which of them was more popular and why?

Published: May 1, 2016 | Modified:October 15, 2020

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