Image: Iravatham Mahadevan
Image: Iravatham Mahadevan

The first element in this Indus sign is the basic container symbol. However, the source for the second element is less certain.

It may be that the second element has a common origin with the Classical Yi symbol for a lip. A container with a lip is a jar. Jars were used for the storage and transport of goods.

Another possible reading for the second element is as one space from a measuring rod. Then, Mahadevan's sign number 4001 would represent a measure of unspecified goods.

The translation depends upon the context of the inscription. It might be the noun consignment, or simply the noun goods.

Illustrative Text Reference:

Mohenjo-daro: Seal: M-1980 a: Asko Parpola, B. M. Pande, and Petteri Koskikallio, 2010: Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions: Volume 3,1: Page 94: New material, untraced objects, and collections outside India and Pakistan: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.

Image Credit:

Indus Script Sign Number 4001: List of Sign Variants: Iravatham Mahadevan, 1977: The Indus Script: Texts, Concordance and Tables: The Director General Archaeological Survey of India.