Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture

By John S. Bowman | Go to book overview

India
ARTS, CULTURE, THOUGHT, AND RELIGION

INDUS CIVILIZATION: 3000–1700 B.C.

3000B.C.: Early Baluchistan settlements worship fertility goddess; the bull is also associated with religion.

3000–2600B.C.: Symbolism in Early Harappan culture provides evidence of intellectual developments. Incised and painted marks on pots are currently interpreted as identifying owners. Religious symbols include buffalo and Bos indicus (Indian cattle) heads, pipal foliage.

2600–2000B.C.: Inscriptions on seals, pottery, and household goods employ earliest system of writing on subcontinent. Although pictographic script, containing hundreds of symbols, is still undeciphered, it represents a lingua franca in use throughout the Mature Harappan civilization; current scholarly opinion assigns language to early Dravidian family.

The finest artworks of the Harappan civilization are small, square stamp seals, finely carved of steatite and polished. These usually incorporate an inscription and a mythic or real animal (bull, zebu, rhinoceros) or geometrical motifs. Individuals typically use them to mark ownership or seal packages; some, evidently of religious significance, serve as amulets. Stone carving and sculpture are to endure as India's most important art forms.

A new kind of finely decorated pottery heralds the arrival of the Mature Harappan period. Floral, geometric, or fish-scale designs are painted in overall designs on mass produced, wheel-thrown redware. Terracotta is also used to fashion expressive human and animal figurines. Sculptures of stone and high-quality bronze include animals and human and divine figures, the most famous being a Mohenjo-Daro bronze of a naked dancing girl. No evidence of monumental sculpture or painting survives from the Harappan culture.

Religion is pervasive in Mature Harappan civilization, although no temples are built. Terracotta mother-goddess figures are ubiquitous, as are depictions of tree spirits and stone and phallic representations resembling later Siva lingam. Rituals are associated with animal sacrifice, public wells and baths (including Mohenjo-Daro's famous Great Bath), and burials. Bulls, tigers, and elephants have ritual significance.

Harappans wear diverse ethnic styles of

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Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture *
  • Contents v
  • Consultants and Contributors vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture *
  • Part One - East Asia 1
  • China - Political History 3
  • China - Arts, Culture, Thought, and Religion 79
  • China - Science-Technology, Economics, and Everyday Life 99
  • Japan - Political History 118
  • Japan - Arts, Culture, Thought, and Religion 162
  • Japan - Science-Technology, Economics, and Everyday Life 179
  • Korea 193
  • Taiwan 225
  • Hong Kong 236
  • Macau (Macao) 244
  • Part Two - South Asia 250
  • India - Political History 251
  • India - Arts, Culture, Thought, and Religion 325
  • India - Science-Technology, Economics, and Everyday Life 355
  • Pakistan 370
  • Bangladesh 379
  • Bhutan 384
  • Maldives 389
  • Nepal 393
  • Sri Lanka (Ceylon) 400
  • Part Three - Southeast Asia 408
  • Brunei 409
  • Cambodia 415
  • Indonesia 436
  • Laos 452
  • Malaysia 465
  • Myanmar (Burma) 476
  • The Philippines 488
  • Singapore 501
  • Thailand 506
  • Vietnam 521
  • Part Four - Central Asia 545
  • Mongolia 547
  • Central Asian Republics 566
  • Tibet 577
  • Appendix 1 - National/Independence Days 583
  • Appendix 2 - Scientific-Technological Achievements in Asia 590
  • Appendix 3 - Asian History: a Chronological Overview 603
  • Index 679
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