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User / Mukul Banerjee (www.mukulbanerjee.com) / Sets / National Museum, New Delhi
Mukul Banerjee / 46 items

N 6 B 41.4K C 23 E Nov 27, 2010 F Nov 27, 2010
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The "Dancing girl" found in Mohenjo-daro is an artifact that echoes the architectural wonders of ancient, deep buried long ago. Some 4500 years old, this 10.8 cm long bronze statue of the dancing girl was found in 1926 from a broken down house on the "ninth lane" in Mohenjo-daro. The figurine of the dancing girl of Mohenjodaro has changed the way one looked at Indian art of antiquity. The "pert liveliness" of the minute figure is unparallel and amidst its curves and pose whispers the secret of the ancient age. The bronze statuette is hardly four inches high yet speaks ample of the superb craftsmanship and of the caster`s skills.



The little dancing girl is as if a surmise echoing across the ages, a culture both distant and not so far, depicting a moment away from the present day, in one pretty tangible instant. The vivacity of the figurine since ages has drawn attention of the scholars. The dancing girl of Mohenjodaro is without any clothes; while her left leg is slightly bent , it is her arm that delicately rests on her thigh. Her entire weight is there on her right leg and the right arm is resting on her hips in an elegantly insouciant gesture. Her elaborately coiled hair, her bangles and necklaces speaks of the social life of the then India. A moment captured eternally, a vivid impression of the young the dancing girl of Mohenjodaro so ideally "beats time to the music with her legs and feet..."


The creativity of this lovely dancing girl of Mohenjodaro crosses time and space whilst murmuring the secrets of an apparently enigmatic, but at least fleetingly recognizable past of India.


Read More: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indus_Valley_Civilization

Tags:   heritagesite-359 Archeology History India Heritage Museum Delhi New Delhi Ancient national museum Delhi Photo mukulbanerjeephotography © Mukul Banerjee Bharat Hindusthan Mohenjo-daro Dancing girl ninth lane Indus Valley Indus Valley Civilization Harappa Bronze statue statuette Antiquity Craftsmanship © Mukul Banerjee Photography

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Metallurgy in India has a long and varied history. Bronze and copper were known during the period of the Indus Valley Civilization. The recovery of metal articles (including a bronze dancing girl) and the discovery of crucible with slag attached are clear indicators of the knowledge of casting (pouring molten-hot metal into moulds of the desired shape and size) and forging (hammering hot metal into required shapes). Further, this points to the fact that these early peoples could produce and handle temperatures as high as 1084° C (melting point of copper), as also 1065° C (gold), 960° C (silver), 327° C (lead), and 232° C (tin). Working with iron with its melting point at 1533° C was inarguably a later achievement.

Mohenjodaro, Harappa and Lothal are the three major sites of this civilization. At Lothal in the state of Gujarat, two types of kilns have been excavated, One, a circular kiln that measures 1 metre in diameter, that was most probably used for smelting copper ingots; the second, a rectangular kiln measuring 75 by 60 cms. with a depth of 30 cms. This is believed to have been used for casting tools.

The many metal discoveries at Lothal include figure, amulets, pins in the shape of a bird-head, miniature figures, and tools such as a curved or circular saw, a needle with an eye at the piercing end, and a bronze drill with twisted grooves. This last is by far the most important find of ancient tools because this single item led to an unparalleled precision at the time, and is widely regarded as the precursor to modern machine tools.

The above-mentioned tools are exceptional in the entire Indus Valley civilization, and neither do they bear resemblance to Harappan tools. Indeed, Lothal was already a prosperous town prior to the arrival of the Harappans sometime around 2450 BC and till 1600 BC.

Tags:   heritagesite-359 Archeology History India Heritage Museum Delhi New Delhi Ancient national museum Delhi Photo mukulbanerjeephotography © Mukul Banerjee Bharat Hindusthan © Mukul Banerjee Photography

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Stamp seal with unicorn and ritual offering stand, ca. 2000-1900 B.C.; Harappan. Indus Valley, Harappa,

Seals appear in the Indus Valley around 2600 B.C. with the rise of the cities and associated administrators. Square and rectangular seals were made from fired steatite. The soft soapstone was carved, polished, and then fired in a kiln to whiten and harden the surface. Seals made of metal are extremely rare, but copper and silver examples are known. The square seals usually have a line of script along the top and a carved animal in the central portion. The animals depicted on the seals, usually males, include domestic and wild animals as well as mythical creatures, such as the unicorn. A small feeding trough or mysterious offering stand is often placed below the head of the animal. Some seals contain more complex scenes that represent mythological or religious events. On the reverse side is a carved knob, or boss, with a perforation for holding a thick cord. These knobs must have been easily broken and are missing from most seals. The unicorn is by far the most common motif found impressed on clay tags originally attached to knots or binding on a bundle of goods. This suggests that the unicorn seal owners were mostly involved in trade and commerce but does not mean that they were the most powerful group. The less widely distributed seals with the bull, elephant, rhinoceros, and tiger motifs may have represented the most powerful clans or offices that actually ruled the cities. Other types of seals found in the Indus Valley, such as compartmented seals, reflect connections with regions where these types of seal were in use.

Tags:   heritagesite-359 Archeology History India Heritage Museum Delhi New Delhi Ancient national museum Delhi Photo mukulbanerjeephotography © Mukul Banerjee Bharat Hindusthan © Mukul Banerjee Photography

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Stamp seal with unicorn and ritual offering stand, ca. 2000-1900 B.C.; Harappan. Indus Valley, Harappa,

Seals appear in the Indus Valley around 2600 B.C. with the rise of the cities and associated administrators. Square and rectangular seals were made from fired steatite. The soft soapstone was carved, polished, and then fired in a kiln to whiten and harden the surface. Seals made of metal are extremely rare, but copper and silver examples are known. The square seals usually have a line of script along the top and a carved animal in the central portion. The animals depicted on the seals, usually males, include domestic and wild animals as well as mythical creatures, such as the unicorn. A small feeding trough or mysterious offering stand is often placed below the head of the animal. Some seals contain more complex scenes that represent mythological or religious events. On the reverse side is a carved knob, or boss, with a perforation for holding a thick cord. These knobs must have been easily broken and are missing from most seals. The unicorn is by far the most common motif found impressed on clay tags originally attached to knots or binding on a bundle of goods. This suggests that the unicorn seal owners were mostly involved in trade and commerce but does not mean that they were the most powerful group. The less widely distributed seals with the bull, elephant, rhinoceros, and tiger motifs may have represented the most powerful clans or offices that actually ruled the cities. Other types of seals found in the Indus Valley, such as compartmented seals, reflect connections with regions where these types of seal were in use.

Tags:   heritagesite-359 Archeology History India Heritage Museum Delhi New Delhi Ancient national museum Delhi Photo mukulbanerjeephotography © Mukul Banerjee Bharat Hindusthan © Mukul Banerjee Photography

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Art under the Maurya dynasty is a treasure house which comprises the remains of the royal palace and city of Pataliputra, the stupas at Sanchi, Sarnath and Amaravati, pillars of Ashoka, potteries, coins and paintings. The Maurya Empire from fourth to second century B.C. is an important period in the history of Indian art.



The Maurya Empire was founded by Chandragupta Maurya and it reached its greatest moment of political, religious, and artistic development in the middle years of the third century B.C. The prologue to the foundation of the Maurya Dynasty was the invasion of India by Alexander the Great. The background of Maurya power, together with Ashoka's substitution of a kind of religious imperialism is important in considering the art of his period. The Maurya Empire indicates a significant transition in Indian art from use of wood to stone.



The ruins of the fabulous city of Pataliputra near modern Patna, is extremely important for an understanding of the whole character of Maurya civilisation which Ashoka inherited and perpetuated. Following not only Indian but ancient near eastern instance, the palace walls, the splendid towers and pavilions, were all constructed of brick or baked clay that has long since crumbled to dust or been swept away by periodic deluge of the swollen waters of the Ganga. Beyond the evidence of the authentic excavations at Pataliputra, an idea of the appearance of the city in the elevations of towns that form the backgrounds for Buddhist subjects in the reliefs of the early Andhra Period at Sanchi can be perceived. . The excavations of Pataliputra revealed that there is a presence of moat which is surrounded by a palisade or railing of the type developed in the Vedic period to the uses of urban fortification. It is assumed that all the super structures were built of wood.



The remains exposed in the actual palace area like a great audience hall was preceded by a number of huge platforms built of solid wood in log-cabin fashion. They formed a kind of artificial eminence, like the palace platforms of ancient Mesopotamia and Iran. Undoubtedly, these wooden structures were projected as foundations for the support of some kind of pavilions in front of the palace itself. In addition to a ground plan of the palace area, a single illustration of the remains of Pataliputra is reproduced to demonstrate the extraordinary craftsmanship and durability of the city’s belt of fortifications. Pataliputra with towers and gateways rivaling the ancient capitals of Iran does give some slight suggestion, by its vast extent and the enormous strength of construction, of the great city of the Maurya Empire.


Buddhism flourished during the reign of Ashoka whose tolerance and generosity to religious sects were not limited to his patronage of Buddhism but is illustrated by his donation of cells for the habitation of holy men of the heretical Ajivika sect in the Barabar Hills near Gaya. The hermitage at Lomas Rishi cave is noted for its architectural magnificence. The carving of the facade of this sanctuary is completely Indian. It is an imitation in relief sculpture in stone of the entrance of a freestanding structure in wood and thatch, of repeated crescent shapes under an ogee arch that most probably represents the contour of the thatched roof. The principal decoration of the so-called "chaitya window" of the over door is a parade of elephants approaching a Stupa. The naturalistic depiction of the expression and gait of these elephants seems almost like a continuation of the style of the Indus Valley seals. The complete elevation of this small facade is repeated over and over again in the chaitya-halls of the Sunga and later periods, and is particularly significant in its showing that the forms of later Buddhist architecture were already completely evolved in the Maurya Period.



The proper picture of Maurya period is revealed in its sculpture. The existing monuments divulge the same imperialist and dictatorial character as Ashoka's rule in its essential structure; like so much of Maurya culture, they are foreign in style, quite apart from the main stream and tradition of Indian art, and display the same intimacy of relationship and imitation of the cultures of the Hellenistic Western powers and of Iran as the language of Ashoka's inscriptions and the Maurya court's philhellenic leanings. Side by side with this official imperial art, there existed a folk art, much more truly Indian in style and tradition and, in the final analysis, of far greater import for the future development of Indian art. Another fabulous sculpture is the Sarnath Pillar, which has four lions back to back at the top of the pillar. The extraordinary precision and beauty associated with these sculptures is a fine instance of the proficiency that the artisans of that period possessed.



It has often been pointed out that one of the tangible results of Alexander's invasion of India and the continuation of Indian contacts with the Hellenic and Iranian West in the Maurya Period was the introduction of the method of stone-carving and the first use of this permanent material in place of the wood, ivory, and metal that were used during the Vedic Period. The great Stupa at Sanchi is a stone monument erected as a part of Ashoka's imperialist agenda of spreading Buddhism throughout his empire.



Art in Maurya period is noted for its refinement in potteries which consisted of many types of wares. But the northern black polished ware is distinguished for its developed method and is the trademark of Maurya pottery. The coins are also an imperative part of Maurya art and were mainly made of silver and copper. The coins varied in shapes, size and weight and the common symbols that were used was that of tree, mountain and elephant.



After the Indus culture, the most primitive existing architectural heritage in India is that of the Mauryas. The sculptures and architecture during this period is regarded as the finest example in Indian art. The rock cut caves, stupas and palaces makes the art of Maurya period as a landmark in the history of Indian art.

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