Image: Lynn Fawcett
Image: Lynn Fawcett

This is a stylised pictograph of an insect which has been combined with a point of light at each corner of the character area. Each corner represents a cardinal direction, and a point of light signifies that something is true. Hence, for the insects in question something is true regardless of the position of the sun in the sky, in other words always. The species of insect can be determined from the context, which for inscription M-975 is the quality of a dye. Thus, the translation is 'lac extract always'.

Illustrative Text Reference:

Mohenjo-daro: Seal: M-975 a: Sayid Ghulam Mustafa Shah and Asko Parpola, 1991: Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions: Volume 2: Page 95: Collections in Pakistan: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.


This is Mahadevan's sign number 2358, which I have redrawn to better reflect the original.


There are two possible candidates for the insect species that is referred to in inscription M-975. One is Kermes vermilio, which is native to areas around the Mediterranean, and the other is Kerria lacca, which is native to Southeast Asia . Both insects can be used to make a red dye. Teresinha Roberts describes lac as a very strong natural dye¹. This ties in with inscription M-975, which states that only a small quantity of the dyestuff was required to dye thoroughly. My conclusion is therefore that the dyestuff was locally produced Kerria lacca, rather than imported Kermes vermilio.

Image Credit:

Lac Extract Always: Lynn Fawcett, 2019.


1. Teresinha Roberts: Wild Colours: Lac Extract: Accessed: 20 January 2019.