Image: Lynn Fawcett
Image: Lynn Fawcett

The Gharial is the name of a boat, which is pictured on an inscribed Indus tablet (reference: M-1429). The text begins on side C of the tablet, which can be seen in the image on the left. The image can be read literally as an engraving of a gharial catching a fish. However, the 'fish' shape also resembles the Indus symbol for the verb to meet (Mahadevan's sign number 59), so that side C can be read: 'Meet the Gharial'.

Illustrative Text Reference:

Mohenjo-daro: Tablet: M-1429: Asko Parpola, B. M. Pande, and Petteri Koskikallio, 2010: Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions: Volume 3,1: Page 386: New material, untraced objects, and collections outside India and Pakistan: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.


On side B, we learn, through a picture, that the Gharial is a cormorant fishing boat with three cormorants. Then in the inscription on side A, we are invited to take a look at the catch. The literary translation of side A might be something like: 'Three divers deliver their catch. Take a look at the large fish'.

Image Credits:

Indus Script Sign Number 59: Sign List of the Indus Script: Iravatham Mahadevan, 1977: The Indus Script: Texts, Concordance and Tables: The Director General Archaeological Survey of India.


The Gharial: Lynn Fawcett, 2017.