Image: Iravatham Mahadevan
Image: Iravatham Mahadevan

This is the basic pictograph of the upper torso and arms, which denotes a span, with the addition of a stylised right hand. The hand is shown in profile. The right hand is associated with correct or proper conduct. Hence, this is an ideograph for the noun rules.

Illustrative Text Reference:

Mohenjo-daro: Seal: M-1919 a: Asko Parpola, B. M. Pande, and Petteri Koskikallio, 2010: Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions: Volume 3,1: Page 81: New material, untraced objects, and collections outside India and Pakistan: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.


There is only one extant example of this Indus sign. Unfortunately, Seal M-1919 is damaged, and the inscription is incomplete.


The motif on seal M-1919 is a scene, which includes a tiger with horns, a partly human hybrid female with horns and a tail, and a tree. My interpretation of the motif is that the tiger represents an irate carter. The carter is being restrained by a female authority figure who enforces the rules of the road. The tree element of the motif might depict Vachellia nilotica (babul). The feathery outline of the tiger's horns resembles that of the tree's leaves. It is possible that the body of the cart (as represented by the shape of the tiger's horns) was made from babul timber. Naval Kandwal states that babul can be used to make the bodies of bullock carts¹.

Image Credit:

Indus Script Sign Number 227: Sign List of the Indus Script: Iravatham Mahadevan, 1977: The Indus Script: Texts, Concordance and Tables: The Director General Archaeological Survey of India.


1. Naval Kandwal, 2020: Application of timber obtained from different trees: Easy Study Point Civil Engineering: Accessed: 23 January 2021.