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Torso of “Priest-King”, Mohenjo-Daro, C. 2000-1900 Bce Essay

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Updated: Dec 10th, 2021

Ancient Indus rulers unlike most ancient urban societies rulers did not glorify their power using erected monuments. They set their rulers apart through symbols of power and wealth. They used rare materials, carved seals with writing and animal symbols, stone seals, and also ornaments. The shape and form, texture, value and light, color features of a sculptor described how a leader was. The torso of Mohenjo-Daro the “priest King” shows that he was a respected leader in the ancient Indus society. This is because precious ornaments are used such as fillet, ribbon, cloak, trefoil that suggest power and respect. The red color of the design circles in the cloak show authority and power. The figure is made of exquisitely styled materials to show he was a wealthy and powerful King.

Mohenjo-Daro the “priest King” is a seated male sculpture that was molded to represent an ancient Indus Valley Civilization city (Possehl, 2002). Mohenjo Daro city also known as “Mound of the Dead” was one of the ancient Indian cities and the first in the World to flourish between 2600-1900 BCE. The sculpture of Mohenjo-Daro the “priest-king” is made from low-fired steatite and white material. It measures 17.5 cm in height and 11 cm in width. The sculpture is displayed at the National museum at Karachi, 50.852. Marshall 1931: 356-7, pl. XCVIII (Possehl, 2002).

The figure of Mohenjo-Daro has facial features that are common to many seated figures in the Indian sub-continent. The figure is well proportioned and has an appearance that is soft and ‘fleshy’. The figure is molded finely such that it is not similar to ancient Greece or Near East male figures. The “priest-king” seated male sculpture is one of the most exquisite stone sculptures to be made from the Mohenjo-Daro site. The sculptor used skill and creativeness to create a powerful image of “priest-king” that has naturalistic details and stylized forms. The figure appears bigger to the viewer than the actual size.

The “Priest-King” from Mohenjo-Daro has a ribbon headband or a fillet on the forehead. The headband contains a circular inlay ornament. The sculpture has a smaller ornament on the upper right arm (Possehl, 2002). The hair is combed towards the back carefully and it is not tied by a bun. The two ends of the fillet headband fall along the back through the hair. The flat back of the head contains diverse features that may have held a traditional carved bun separately on other seated figures. The feature also shows as if there was a plumed headdress or a more elaborate horn.

The sculpture has two holes beneath the ears that are highly stylized. The holes suggest that an ahead ornament or a necklace could have been attached to the sculpture. A cloak decorated with trefoil covers the left shoulder. The cloak has single and double designs circles that were filled with red pigment originally. At the center of each circle are drill holes that indicated they were made using a specialized drill and then a chisel was used to touch them up (Possehl, 2002). A great split on the images’ face is evident due to its age and weathering that may have taken place.

Another noticeable aspect of the sculpture is the fact that its eyes look extremely damaged; this could also be attributed to its age and natural causes (Possehl, 2002).

It has not been revealed what most of the seated sculptures represent although most people suggest that they commemorate clan leaders and ancestral figures(Possehl, 2002). Unlike most ancient urban societies, Indus rulers did not glorify their power using erected monuments. There was no art or sculpture that depicted warfare or conquered enemies in Indus. It is believed that they governed their cities through religion and trade. They set their rulers apart through symbols of power and wealth using rare materials, carved seals with writing and animal symbols, and also through ornaments. They preserved their identities on stone seals and using the seals their names and fame could be deciphered.

The torso of Mohenjo-Daro the “priest King” shows that he was a respected leader in the ancient Indus society. This is because precious ornaments are used such as fillet, ribbon, cloak, trefoil that suggest power and respect. The red color of the design circles in the cloak show authority and power. The figure is made of exquisitely styled materials with shape and form, texture, value and light, the color representing power and reign.

References

Possehl, G.L. (2002). The Indus civilization: a contemporary perspective. New York, NY: Rowman Altamira names. Some scholars suggest that the animal images may reflect the clans to which they belonged. Large buildings that could have been the houses or palaces of powerful leaders were not located in a single area, but were scattered on all the different mounds that made up the cities.

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IvyPanda. "Torso of “Priest-King”, Mohenjo-Daro, C. 2000-1900 Bce." December 10, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/torso-of-priest-king-mohenjo-daro-c-2000-1900-bce/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Torso of “Priest-King”, Mohenjo-Daro, C. 2000-1900 Bce." December 10, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/torso-of-priest-king-mohenjo-daro-c-2000-1900-bce/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Torso of “Priest-King”, Mohenjo-Daro, C. 2000-1900 Bce'. 10 December.

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