The Magic in the Image: Women in Clay at Mohenjo-daro and Harappa

Author:

Shereen Ratnagar

Publisher:

MANOHAR PUBLISHERS AND DISTRIBUTORS

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Publisher

MANOHAR PUBLISHERS AND DISTRIBUTORS

Publication Year 2018
ISBN-13

9789350981856

ISBN-10 9350981858
Binding

Hardcover

Edition FIRST
Number of Pages 444 Pages
Language (English)
Dimensions (Cms) 25x19x2.5
Weight (grms) 1234

Hundreds of clay figurines of women and fragments of these figurines were found in the remains of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro sites, major cities of the Indus civilization, but almost none in the other Harappan towns or villages. What could be the explanation?


This study begins with the background: the archaeological history, various studies of figurines, and how they came to be linked with the idea of the mother goddess. There is also an attempt to draw a general picture of popular religion of the time, and to detect archaeological traces of Harappan beliefs and religious practices.


There follows an analysis of the figurines themselves: what were their antecedents? Do the few male clay figurines fall in the same genre as the plentiful remains of women’s images? There were youthful women, mothers, portly matrons, and also women at the grinding stone, but nothing that could be a representation of ‘womanhood’. Attention is paid to the variation in headgear, hairstyles, ornamentation, and the all-pervasive hip-girdles. Nudity is also a topic of discussion. Besides, they cannot be stood upright. As for their distribution, it was significantly irregular.


Although attempts to replicate the firing of these solid objects using simple methods failed, it is doubtful to what extent they were made by skilled potters, the modelling being unpractised and even clumsy, as the photographs of some profiles, published here for the first time, shows.


The author dares to suggest these images were part of magic rituals or domestic cults that in their turn were impelled by the uncertainties and stresses of a newly emergent city life.

Shereen Ratnagar

Shereen Ratnagar is Tagore National Fellow, former Visiting Chair Professor at the University of Hyderabad and before that, Professor of Archaeology at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

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