A remarkable Harappan sculpture, entitled Woman Riding Two Brahman Bulls, provides a glimpse of both the women and the art of India in the second millennium B.C. It is a rare artefact of the civilisation’s early bronze culture which spanned across northern India and the Indus Valley (Pakistan). The sculpture is the oldest bronze object in New York’s famous Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Indian collection. Recently the image of the sculpture went viral. Here’s what you need to know about the empowering Harappan Sculpture Of Woman Riding Bulls.

Why You Need To Know About The Empowering Harappan Sculpture Of Woman Riding Bulls

Archeologists unearthed the sculpture, dated 2000–1750 B.C., during excavations in Kausambi, near Prayagaraj (Uttar Pradesh). It has been on display at the museum since 1991. The sculpture was first loaned to the museum from 1991-2015. However, in 2015, a private collector gifted the artefact to the museum. The sculpture is said to notify the important role of women in Indus cultures.

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A Marvel Of Indian Artistry

A testimony to the sculpting talent in ancient India, the 14-centimetre-high sculpture is mounted on a small rectangular platform, seemingly cast separately. It includes a woman kneeling on a small platform supported by two humped or Brahman bulls and resting her hands on the bulls’ humps. Notably, riding bulls was a primary mode of transportation in the ancient Gangetic valley and women did it.

The woman’s form and shape provide important clues to deciphering the appearance of the ancient Indian woman. Her sculpture has been chiselled into having a slender physique, pointed breasts, and shoulder-length hair. The face of the woman displays deep eye sockets and an incised mouth. A small circular crown-like fixture sits atop the woman’s head.

The MET museum observed that the symmetry of the female figure in this particular sculpture inspired many other sculptors. Other standing women clay figurines from this period and later reflect the same symmetry.

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Women-Centric Harappan Sculptures

There are many other Harappan figurines that skillfully depict ancient Indian women  and women at work. The Dancing Girl of Mohenjo Daro, a 10.8 centimetre tall bronze-copper statuette found in the ruins of Mohenjo Daro, illustrates a free-standing nude woman with small breasts, long legs, narrow hips, and a short torso.

In the sculpture, the girl has 25 bangles stacked on her left arm and four bangles on the right one. She also sports a necklace with three pendants. The figure’s hair is in the form of a loose bun at the back of the head. The Dancing Girl’s head tilts slightly backward and her left leg bends at the knee.

Certain scholars believe that the Dancing Girl statuette is a miniature of a real woman. Currently, the National Museum, New Delhi houses the sculpture.

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Tarini Gandhiok is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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