The Secret of the Red Torso of Harrappe

The Secret of the Red Torso of Harrappe
The Secret of the Red Torso of Harrappe

A red jasper torso found at Harrapa, Pakistan, dates from the Indus Valley Civilization (3000 BC - 1300 BC)

John Marshall couldn't believe his eyes when this red jasper sculpture was found by M.S. Watsom in Harappa: "… it seemed that it completely violates all the established ideas about early art. Modeling like this was unknown to the ancient world until the Hellenistic era in Greece, and I thought that, therefore, some mistake must have been made. ". Gradually realizing that it must be more ancient, he continues in 1931:

"The statuette is made of beautiful red stone … now in Harappa or anywhere near there was no stone to get it. The stone that was needed had to be brought from great distances…. There is another point in technique, which also The redstone figurine has a large circular indentation in front of each shoulder with a smaller circular projection in the center. What these indentations were for is unclear. They look as if they should have been inlaid with round ornaments ….

The redstone torso treatment could hardly be simpler or clearer. The pose is frontal, the shoulders are pulled back, the stomach is slightly protruding, but the beauty of this small figurine lies in the sophisticated and surprisingly true modeling of the soft parts of the body. ….. This is a work that a Greek of the fourth century BC could well be proud of. And yet the build of the figure, with its rather pronounced belly, is characteristically Indian, not Greek; and even if the Greek influence could be proven, it would have to admit that the performance is Indian."

What is puzzling about the ancient Indus civilization is that so few of these statuettes have been found, yet they are of such exceptionally high quality. How did this become possible?

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