Hinduism Today Magazine Issues and Articles
JEWELRY OF THE INDUS
Category : September 1995

JEWELRY OF THE INDUS



Mohenjodaro was one of two major cities of the preeminent Hindu civilization circa 5000-1900 bce known as Indus Valley. It was contemporary to two other great civilizations: Egypt and Mesopotamia. Mohenjodaro was a very cosmopolitan city, boasting among its commerce jewelry craftsmen of ingenious creativity and technique who worked with precious and semi-precious stones, gold, silver, copper and bronze. Fragments of many ornamental fashions and personal toiletry articles indicate that women (and men) enjoyed a fine appearance, with decorative adornments, hairstyling, and other embellishments. Bathrooms in Mohenjodaro houses were indoors, tiled, well-appointed and had full plumbing, often with showers. Hygiene was a priority for the great city.

Scattered through the ruins of Mohenjodaro are a trove of small figures with intricate, fashionable hairstyles and clothes. Men often wore hair fillets, as is shown by the priestly figure at left. The figurine above is adorned with showy chains of jewelry. Though the locks of the hair are not shown on this figure, the shape of the coiffure indicates a very ornate hair fashion that pomped up the hair in a sort of headdress with jewelry and and other supports helping give it shape. Necklaces made of gold beads alternating with soapstone beads, some with a blue glaze baked across them, demonstrate mastery of high-temperature glazing (photo at left).

The three pieces of fine jewelry shown here were all found inside a vase, the safekeeping spot for the lady owner. The one at above right has six beads made of oval jade, set between six sets of five gold discs. Three pendants of agate and jasper mounted in gold hang from it. The necklace at right is crafted of long cylinder-shaped pearls of carnelian and beaded copper. The carnelian was drilled with a jasper stone bit mounted in an auger brace.

These necklaces were very popular, comprising a major export item for the Indus Valley. The Mesopotamians on the Tigris River were especially fond of the Indus jewelry.