Indus Valley Civilization Pottery

In Indus Valley Civilization, pottery was an important industry and the significance of the pottery can be noted from the fact that harappan pictographical scripts were mainly found on potteries. Indus Valley Civilization Pottery, remained plain most of the times and it further enabled us to understand the gradual evolution of various design motifs as employed in different shapes, and styles.
Indus Valley Civilization consists chiefly of wheel made wares (although potters' wheels, being made of wood, have not survived) both plain and painted while the plain pottery (usually of red clay with or without a fine red slip) is more common than the painted ware (of red and black colours).

Characteristics of Indus Valley Civilisation Pottery

  • The painted decorations consist of horizontal lines of varied thickness, scales, chequers, leaf patterns, lattice work, palm and pipal trees. Additionally, Birds, fishes and animals are also shown.
  • Among the notable shapes found in the Harappan pottery are pedestal, dishes, goblets, cylindrical vessels perforated all over and various kinds of bowls.
  • The uniformity in the forms and paintings on the pottery is difficult to explain and normally the explanation of this uniformity is the fact that the local potters made the pottery. However, it is still unclear how such a large area exhibited a uniform pottery tradition.
  • Although the Indus pottery is mostly represented by the plain bases but few ring bases discovered were on handmade pottery, which was supposed to be baked at home.
  • Pottery made on potter's wheel and burnt in kilns, has shown marks of stamp which might indicate that a few varieties of vessels were traded also.

Types of Pottery

  • Different types of pottery such as glazed(earliest example of its kind in the ancient world), incised, polychrome, perforated and knobbed were used by Harappan people.
  • Polychrome pottery (created when 3 or more mineral colors are used to decorate a hand built ceramic) was rare and mainly comprised small vases decorated with geometric patterns mostly in red, black and green and less frequently in white and yellow simultaneously incised ware is also rare and the incised decoration was confined to the bases of the pans.
  • Perforated pottery was probably used for straining liquor since it has small holes all over the wall and a large hole at the bottom.
  • The decoration on the outside with knobs is a special feature of Knobbed pottery.
  • The Harappan pottery includes goblets, basins, flasks, dishes, cylindrical bottles, tumblers (flat-bottomed), narrow necked vases, spouted vases, corn measures and a special type of dish on a stand which was a offering stand or incense holder.

Mature Indus Valley Civilization Pottery

  • Mature Harappan pottery technology was quite advanced with most of the pots being wheel-made and it represents a blend of the ceramic tradition of the pre-Harappan culture of both Saraswati area and the west of the Indus region.
  • Big storage jars were also produced during mature Harappa phase and pots were excellently painted in black on the bright red surface with geometric patterns, animals, plants, and sometimes paintings also seem to depict scenes from stories.

Location of Pottery Site?

  • The black and Red ware pottery has been found at the highest levels of the Saurashtrian Indus site. Indus experts speculate that these sites probably escaped the general decline of the Indus civilization because they were not located on Indus River, and thus, did not have to go through the destruction that Mohenjo-daro and many other settlements went through.
  • In Harappa a pot obtained from a cemetery shows hunting scene with two antelopes and a hunter.
  • A scene of two birds perching on tree holding a fish on its bleak has been depicted on a jar obtained from Lothal.
  • Traces of Harappan Pottery (2300 to 2000 BC) were also found at archaeological sites in Bahrein and some of the coastal points of the Gulf and further representation of ships and boats are found on Pottery.
  • In areas like Gujarat and Rajasthan a variety of other kinds of potteries continued to be produced along with the Harappan pottery.

Pottery in Post Harappan Period

  • Some characteristic pottery of post Harappan period are Ochre Coloured Pottery (The OCP shares many shapes with the Harappan ware.) (c. 2000-1500) Black and Red ware, Painted Grey Ware (c. 1200-600 B.C.) etc.
  • By about seventh century B.C., Northern Black Polished (N.B.P.) ware came to be manufactured.

    Talk to us for

    UPSC preparation support!


Do you want to become an IAS officer like Saumya Sharma?
Study Online at  Neostencil Logo

Your Exam segments is being saved. Please wait....

Select Exam(s) you are interested in

please enter valid OTP