History of bronze sculpture in India is traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization (2500 BC – 1700 BC). Hindus should be aware of this because it is a matter of pride that our ancestors had such great knowledge. A dancing girl, buffalo and miniature dog are the earliest specimens of Indian Bronzes. They were discovered during the excavations conducted at the archaeological site of Mohenjodaro – the most important Indus Valley site along with Harappa and Lothal.
The bronze sculptures of Indus Valley Civilization were produced by the lost-wax (cire perdue) process. They were created in small open kilns.
Furnaces, crucibles and moulds were unearthed by archeologists at Mohenjodaro and Lothal.
The Dancing Girl
A nude female statuette from Mohenjodaro called the dancing girl is a classic example of the bronze sculptures produced in ancient India using the lost-wax method. The statue is that of a dancer and has an air of vibrant liveliness.
It is 11 cm high, and stands with her left leg flexed, her right hand perched on her hip and the left hand idly resting on the left thigh. She has an elongated slender body with her hair loosely falling on the nape of her neck. Her facial features show thick lips, snub nose and longish eyes. She wears a torque with pendants, a pair of bangles each in her right hand and arm, while her entire left arm is covered with bangles up to the armpit.
Other Bronzes from Indus Civilization
The buffalo, 7 cm long, brings out the ferociousness and power of the animal. Strength of the animal is clearly brought out in the bronze.
Another interesting figure is that of miniature dog. The sculpture brings out the agility of the domestic animal.
A bull figurine, 7 cm long from Kalibangan in Rajasthan is noted for its large head, wrinkled shoulder and heavy dewlap. The figure is very much real and it again is a classic example of the advancement in metallurgy during the period.
Daimabad Bronzes See It to Believe It
The most remarkable bronzes of the period come from Daimabad in Maharashtra. The bronze sculptures found here were produced between 2000 and 1800 BC.
Four Bronze Sculptures from Daimabad
- An elaborate chariot yoked to a pair of bulls driven by a man
- A buffalo on cart with four wheels
- A rhinoceros on cart with four wheels
- Elephant on a cart
These four bronze statues retrieved by archaeologists from Diamabad has a total weight of 65 kg and are among the heaviest bronzes ever to be retrieved from archaeological sites around the world.
Perfection of the technical execution is what is making people sit up and take notice.
Believed to be processional statuettes, the physiognomy of the chariot driver with a snub nose, wide nostrils, thick lips and receding forehead resembles the famous limestone head of a priest from Mohenjodaro.
Such attention to detail is amazing. It is for sure; the civilization, which produced such a sculpture, was technologically advanced and had not shut its door on science. During the same period, Europe and West Asia were populated by barbarians. Thousands of years after such a great civilization, we had another civilization, which roamed the world killing, looting, raping, forcibly converting and destroying great idols of the ancient world.
We should be proud of the overall level of technology and science of the civilization. Their mind was only thirsty for knowledge. They were not slaves of religion or holy book. They were not barbarians or idol breakers. Even with this level of technology and science, they did not invent weapons of mass destruction to fight the hoards of barbarians. It proves maturity in their thought and behavior.