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Distinctive features of Indus valley civilization – Essay

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2. Famous monumental buildings

3. Laying of drains

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1. Town Planning:

Harappan cities demonstrated a sophisticated sense of civil planning and organization. City was generally divided into smaller citadel area in the western part and larger residential area in the eastern part.

The essential institutions of civic life were located in citadel area. Huge man made brick platforms formed the foundation of the buildings of citadel.

It generally had defense walls and bastions with elaborate entrances. City planning roughly followed grid pattern with streets cutting each at right angle.

Drainage system was carefully planned. Houses generally had a courtyard as the focus with rooms opening on to it.

Most houses had individual wells, bathing places and drains. All structure of importance was made of burnt bricks. Brick work shows experience and expertise.

Some important structures discovered from Harappan sites are:

-Great Bath at Mohenjodaro

-Granary at Mohenjodaro

-Assembly Hall (Collegiate Building) at Mohenjodaro

-Granary at Harappa

-Workmen’s quarters comprising fourteen small houses built in two blocks separate by a long narrow lane, excavated at Harappa.

Apart from Town planning other important characteristics of Harappan Civilization includes exclusive style of Arts and Crafts.

Findings from Harappan sites shows/uniformity in objects like seals, beads, toys, potteries, terracotta, masks, idols and figures.

Some of these objects and their significances are given below:

(i) Seals:

Seals are most distinctive artifact of IVC. They were generally made of steatite (soft stone) and had signs, symbols and animal motifs on it.

They were used as a means of authentication and had commercial content. Seals were the greatest of artistic creation of Harappan people.

They are considered as the outstanding contribution of the Indus Civilization to ancient craftsmanship.

They were generally square and rectangular in shape and made of steatite. They display variety of signs and symbols.

This ranges from geometric patterns, replica of flora and fauna, human, semi-human forms, composite animals etc.

Most frequently depicted animal on Harappan seal is Unicorn and most famous Harappan seal is ‘Pashupati seal’ discovered from Mohenjodara.

It depicts a horned deity sitting in a yogic posture surrounded by an elephant, a tiger, a rhinoceros, a buffalo and two antelopes. John Marshall identified it as Proto-Siva.

(ii) Beads and their making:

Abundant number and variety of beads have been excavated from different Harappan sites.

Beads of gold, silver, copper, faience, steatite, shell, semi-precious stones like carnelian, jasper are known.

However, beads made of steatite are numerous. Steatite being soft and easier to work was moulded and even micro beads were made from it.

Beads were generally manufactured from locally available raw materials. Therefore, we find abundance of shell objects excavated from coastal sites like Nageshwar, Balakot and Lothal etc.

Techniques used for bead making involved polishing, drilling, cutting, etching etc., raw material were chipped into rough shapes and then finally flaked into the final form/shape.

The material to be used for making beads was cut in different shapes and sizes with the help of specific stone tools.

The shapes were numerous like disc shaped, spherical, cylindrical, barrel shaped, segmented. Grinding polishing and drilling was involved in the manufacture of beads.

Specialized drills have been found at Chanhudaro, Lothal and Dholavira.

Etching on the surface of beads shows the technical expertise of craftsmen and it reflects their knowledge of fine art.

Moulded beads and micro beads of steatite shows the extraordinary level of knowledge possessed by Indus Valley people as far as bead making is concerned.

The centre of production is identified on the basic of availability of waste material that results in the process of manufacture of finished product.

The traces of large waste pieces used for making smaller object suggest that apart from specialized centers, craft production was also undertaken in larger cities and big cities such as Mohenjodaro and Harappa.

(iii) Pottery:

Harappan potteries are one of the finest specimens of Harappan art and some important characteristics are given below:

(a) Harappan pottery was highly utilitarian in character.

(b) It is chiefly wheel made bright or dark red in colour and is well baked.

(c) Both plain and painted ware is found. The plain variety of pottery being more common.

(d) Different types of pottery such as glazed, polychrome, incised, perforated and knobbed were known to Harappan people.

(e) Painted designs or some pieces show a remarkable artistic touch. Generally flora, fauna, geometrical designs and scenes from forest life were illustrated on the potteries.

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