Image: Iravatham Mahadevan
Image: Iravatham Mahadevan

This is the Indus sign for the noun cloth. It is interesting because it incorporates a simplfied form of the grid pattern that can be seen on a female pottery figurine¹. The pattern on the figurine is thought to depict a woven skirt. In the noun cloth, the grid is combined with three pictographs of overlapping threads.

Illustrative Text References:

Harappa: Seal: H-390 a: Sayid Ghulam Mustafa Shah and Asko Parpola, 1991: Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions: Volume 2: Page 261: Collections in Pakistan: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.


Mohenjo-daro: Seal: M-9 a: Jagat Pati Joshi and Asko Parpola, 1987: Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions: Volume 1: Page 8: Collections in India: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.


In example H-390, this Indus sign is preceded by the verb to link. If the two signs are read together, it can be translated as a cloth that links, in other words a patch, or a cloth used for patching. This makes inscription H-390 very special because it is the only one that refers to the use of a rag rather than a brush for oiling wheels.

The second example, M-9 raises an intriguing question, does the inscription refer to a cloth route, akin to our modern concept of the Silk Road, or does it simply refer to a batch of cloth in transit?

Image Credit:

Indus Script Sign Number 2616: List of Sign Variants: Iravatham Mahadevan, 1977: The Indus Script: Texts, Concordance and Tables: The Director General Archaeological Survey of India.


1. Early Harappan Female Figurine: Accessed: 17 November 2016.