Image: Lynn Fawcett
Image: Lynn Fawcett

This is the Indus symbol for the noun measurements. The shape of the symbol is related to that for the noun method. It is a simplified representation of a three dimensional object, based on a cube. However, in this instance, the base of the cube has been left open. That is because measurements are being taken, but they are not being used to calculate the capacity of a container.

The face of one side of the object is represented by three lines, one of which is splayed outwards giving the impression of movement. I suggest that you imagine a right-handed person with a measuring rope. She holds the measuring rope fixed to the starting point with the left hand and uses the right hand to extend the rope and determine the size.

A pictograph of a measuring rope is placed on top of the object. The marks on the measuring rope are smaller towards the top of the image, which implies that the artist was aware of perspective.

Illustrative Text Reference:

Mohenjo-daro: Seal: M-649 a: Sayid Ghulam Mustafa Shah and Asko Parpola, 1991: Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions: Volume 2: Page 25: Collections in Pakistan: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.


This is Mahadevan's sign number 200, which I have redrawn to better reflect the original. There is only one extant example of this Indus sign.


The animal in the motif on M-649 appears to be wearing both a breast collar and a full collar, which suggests that the seal may have belonged to a harness maker.

Image Credit:

Measurements: Lynn Fawcett, 2019.