Central Asia, Indus Valley, Harappan/Mohenjo-Daro civilization, ca. 2700 to 2000 BCE. This is an incredible, large terracotta burial urn painted with black line motifs of peacocks around the carinated shoulder and a wave pattern around the body. It stands on a flat base and has a rolled rim with a narrow lip. The peacocks stand in groups of two and three, all facing the same direction and shown in profile, each group separated from each other by square, cross-hatched motifs that look almost like cages for keeping birds. Further black-line painted motifs - these abstract and geometrical - ring the neck and lower body. Size: 9" W x 9.75" H (22.9 cm x 24.8 cm)
The blue peacock is native to India, and was declared its national bird in 1963. It often serves as the vehicle for several Hindu deities, including Brahma and Lakshmi; the god Indra is sometimes depicted sitting on a peacock throne. From the earliest decorative art in India, we know that the peacock has been associated with the sun, linked with beauty, glory, immortality and wisdom; this iconography spread from India outward to Babylonia, Persia, and Asia Minor. Peacocks are a common motif on Harappan pottery, sometimes shown in flight and sometimes shown standing like these, painted on the shoulder.
See a burial urn of similar shape and with a flying peacock motif on the shoulder from the Harappa Archaeological Research Project, in McIntosh, "The Ancient Indus Valley: New Perspectives", 2007, pg. 92.
Provenance: Ex-Private East Coast, USA Collection
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