Harappan Civilisation Art And Architecture

Harappan Civilisation Art and Architecture are India’s artistic glory. History, Culture, and Religion have had a major influence on Indian Architecture. The Great Harappan Civilisation was discovered in 1920-22. It is also known as Indus Valley Civilisation (IDV) because a number of the settlements were found on the banks and tributaries of the Indus River.

  • The Harappan site was discovered on the bank of the River Ravi.
  • The Mohanjo-Daro was discovered on the bank of the River Indus.

As Per The Archaeological Evidence, the date of the Harappan civilisation was between 2600 BC to 1900 BC.  This data reveals that it was one of the oldest civilisations in the world. It was the first civilisation in the Indian sub-continent to be connected to cities, as they built the world’s first urban centres with town planning, sanitation, drainage system, and broad roads.

Harappan Civilisation Art And Architecture
                                                                                                 Harappan Civilisation



  • Early Harappan Phase
    • Between 3500 BC – 2600 BC
    • Key Aspects: Use of elementary craft, and mud structure in town planning, and trade.
  • Mature Harappan Phase
    • Between 2600 BC – 1900 BC
    • Key Aspects: Well-developed town, creation of different varieties of craft, prosperous inland, and international trade.
  • Late Harappan Phase
    • It is believed that Harappan culture started declining from  1900 BC – 1400 BC.



The Harappan civilisation had the Great Bath, Granaries, and Assembly Halls. Their houses were constructed with burnt bricks, and each had a bathroom, kitchen, and well. It has been recognised that Harappan civilisation art and architecture are as old as civilisation itself.


UPSC-2023 | Harappan Civilisation (Indus Valley Civilisation) Art


  • The city consisted of an upraised citadel and the lower part of the city. The western part is believed to house the elite and the important buildings. It is a great example of how to plan a city.
  •  There were several crisscross streets that divided the city into several housing blocks. Narrow lanes connect Main Street.
  • There were many types of houses ranging from one-room structures to big structures made from brunt bricks. They utilized standardized burnt mud bricks as a building material.
  • There was usually a square courtyard with many rooms, well, kitchens, and a bathing platform in the large house.
  • Archaeologists come to the conclusion that social division might have existed, as small Houses were supposed to be used by the poor section, and bigger houses were used by the rich people.
  • The Harappan people had very good knowledge of and importance of cleaning and sanitation. Every house had a well “established network of drainage systems “ and every house had outdoor drains like street drains. They were constructed in a manner that they can be cleaned by removing the slab.

Harappan Great Bath

  • Great Bath was discovered at Mohanjo-Daro, signifying that the Harappa people were great engineers. it is still operational and there is no leakage or cracks in the structure. This bath is surrounded by corridors on all sides and is approached by a flight of steps north and south.

             Harappan Seals

  •  Seals:
    • The Harappan people were literate people. Their seals also contain a form of script indicating that they knew how to write.
    • Scripts have 400 signs written from left to right.
    • It is not known what language they spoke. Scholars believe that they said “Brahui” a particular dialect used by the people of Baloch in Pakistan.
    • Seals were made in various shapes like square, rectangular, circular, and triangular pieces and the materials used were stealing, chert, copper, faience, ivory, and terracotta.
    • The Harappan were known to have had numerous seals, including one depicting the one-horned rhinoceros, leaves of the peepal tree, and a male god.
    •  Famous seals are the Pashupati seal and the unicorn seal.  The Pashupati seal is a steatite seal discovered at Mohenjo-Daro, seal depicts a seated figure in the yogic pose, most likely Shiva both sides of the “God” are animals an elephant, a tiger, a rhinoceros a man, and a buffalo.
    • It seemed that the people knew spinning and weaving as evidenced by the images of the men and women found on various seals.
    • Many Indus seals found in Mesopotamia indicate a possible trade between their Indus Valley and the Mesopotamian civilisation.
  • Significance of Seals:
    • Used as units of trade and commerce.
    • Used as an amulet to ward off evil.
    • Used as an educational trade.
    • They threw light on the flora, fauna, and social and religious beliefs of those times with the motifs, etched on the seals.
    • Some historians believe that different classes of people used to wear different specific types of seals.


In ancient times, the” Lost Wax Technique “ was widely used to produce bronze casting. The bronze dancing girl of Mohenjo-Daro and the bronze bull of Kali sang and have noted examples. Three-dimensional statues have been found in the various places of the Harappan and Mohenjo-Daro.


The Cire-Perdue or “lost wax” method for casting is a technique utilized to make various metal objects, particularly in Himachal, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, and MP.

Harappan Sculpture Harappan Male Torso

  • Dancing Girl, a bronze statue.
  • Two male figures – one a torso in red sandstone at the Harappan and the other a bust of a bearded man in steatite in Mohenjo-Daro are famous artefacts. The bearded nobleman or high priest wears a trefoil-pattern shawl. It is strikingly similar to a figure discovered in the Sumerian sites of Ur and Susa.
  • Kalibangan and Daimabad bore excellent examples of metal-cast sculpture. The buffalo with its uplifted head, back and sweeping horns and the goat are artistic masters amongst animal figures in bronze.


The Terracotta representation looks crude when compared to the stone and bronze statues. In the Harappan civilisation, archaeologists have found some well-known fine examples of terracotta sculptures like mother goddess, toy carts with wheels, whistles, birds, animals, etc.

Harappan Mother Goddess

  • The female Goddess figure is a primaeval figure. Of standing female adorned with necklaces hanging over prominent breasts.
  • she adorns a loincloth and a girdle. This terracotta figure of a large mother goddess comes from Mohenjo-Daro and is one of the best preserved.
  • This also suggests that the female deity is worshipped by Harappan as bestowed fertility and prosperity.



Harappan Pottery

  •  The pottery of the Indus Valley is mainly produced on wheels, with only a few exceptions made by hand.
  • The excavated pottery of different styles and varieties of designs as well as shape suggests that various types of pottery were created over a period of time.
  • Plain pottery is more common than painted ware. Most of the pottery has geometric shapes and animals which were painted in black glossy paint on the black-painted ware with a fine red colour slip-on coating.
  • The polychrome pottery was having small geometric patterns vasas in red, black, and green colour.


Harappan pottery

  • The  Black and Red ware pottery gave way to the painted Grey ware in the western Gangetic Plains (Ghaghariya -Hakka valley).
  • The painted grey ware culture, village and town settlements, ivory-working, domesticated horses, and the dawn of iron metallurgy were described by a style of fine, grey pottery painted with geometric patterns in black.
  • Northern Black Polished Ware This was an urban Iron Age culture of the Indian subcontinent that became urban in the late Vedic period, around 700 BC. This was a magnificent style of furnished pottery used by the elite.


Harappan Ornaments

  • In the Harappan civilisation men and women were used to wearing ornaments made from various materials which included various metals, gems, baked clay, etc. The excavation of these types of jewellery is considered the most famous treasure relics and artefacts found. There were types of jewellery found including necklaces made from stone, gold Earrings, gold heads, copper, Bracelets, faience pendants and steatite and gemstone beadworks.
  • All these discovered ornaments were beautifully crafted. It is also found that this jewellery was used to bury the dead as one of the cemeteries found in Farman of Haryana explained about it.
  • Other evidence of well-developed beads were carnelian, amethyst, quartz, steatite, jasper, crystal, turquoises, lapis lazuli, etc. A great deal of technical skill was employed in the manufacture of these beads, which were also made of metals such as copper, bronze, gold, shell, faience, and terracotta or burnt clay.
  • Both Chanhudaro and Lothal have been found to have bead makers’ shops.
  • Necklaces, armless, and finger rings were worn by both males and females.
  • The evidence of cotton and wool spinning is discovered from the house of the Indus, where many spindles and spindle whorls were found.
  • Identical to the dhoti and shawl, men and women both wore separate pieces of clothing. Covering the left shoulder and passing the right shoulder, the shawl was worn.
  • Different hairstyles were in vogue, and wearing beads was popular among all.


Harappan Gems and Stone



The sites of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro have now been found in Pakistan. There have been approximately one hundred excavations of sites of the Indus Valley culture in India, the Harappan civilisation offers an excellent example to the modern world in ways of expertise in town planning, water management, harvesting systems, and an unparalleled drainage mechanism. The Indus writing system, so far, could not be translated because of the texts being too short. The Indus Valley artists and craftsmen were outstanding at a variety of skills, casting metal, carving stone, making pottery, and carving terracotta images, that featured simplified motifs of animals, plants, and birds, which deals made the civilisation rich.

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