Image: Lynn Fawcett
Image: Lynn Fawcett

The V-shape in this Indus symbol is the outline of the chassis of a light carriage called an ekka. The symbol is therefore, the noun ekka.

There is a second variant of the symbol for the noun ekka. Please see below.


Illustrative Text Reference:

Harappa: Copper Model of a Vehicle: Stuart Piggott, 1970: Copper-Models in the Indus Civilization: Fig. 1: The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland: Page 201.

Comments:

There are two Indus signs inscribed on the toy carriage. The noun ekka appears on the side of the vehicle's canopy, whilst the verb to obscure or to hide can be seen on the body of the carriage. The side of the carriage was relatively high. It therefore, seems likely that the toy represented a vehicle that was for private hire, and that a selling point was the privacy afforded to the occupant.

 

Mark Kenoyer argues that this type of vehicle was not an ekka, because a modern ekka is drawn by a single animal, and the Indus vehicle would have been drawn by two bullocks¹. However, there are some old images on the web that depict this type of vehicle being drawn by two bullocks². This suggests that similar passenger vehicles were in use in the nineteeth century. Whilst the correct name for the vehicle may be in dispute, the key fact is the distinctive shape of the chassis. This readily identifies it as a vehicle for carrying passengers rather than freight.


Image: Iravatham Mahadevan
Image: Iravatham Mahadevan

The second variant for the noun ekka is the full height character that Mahadevan numbered 4497.


Sample Text Reference:

Harappa: Tablet in bas-relief: H-1943 B: Asko Parpola, B. M. Pande, and Petteri Koskikallio, 2010: Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions: Volume 3,1: Page 266: New material, untraced objects, and collections outside India and Pakistan: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.

Comment:

The full height symbol for the noun ekka appears on tablets. It is possible that the tablets were used as tokens for vehicle hire.


Image Credits:

Ekka: Lynn Fawcett, 2017.

Indus Script Sign Number 4497: List of Sign Variants: Iravatham Mahadevan, 1977: The Indus Script: Texts, Concordance and Tables: The Director General Archaeological Survey of India.

Notes:

1. Single Draft Animal Carts: Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, 2004: Wheeled Vehicles of the Indus Civilization of Pakistan and India: Page 9: Harappa.com: https://www.harappa.com/sites/default/files/pdf/Kenoyer2004_Wheeled%20Vehicles%20of%20the%20Indus%20Valley%20Civilizatio.pdf: Accessed: 31 March 2020.

 

2. The term ekka in a glossary compiled by Frances Pritchett, on the Columbia University website, has several images of passenger vehicles drawn by two bullocks.

The shallow V, from the canopy on the copper model, can be seen in the outline of the base of the vehicle chassis in the image entitled "A view from 'Voyage aux Indes orientales': http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00glossarydata/terms/ekka/ekka.html: Accessed: 31 March 2020.