Saturday, August 20, 2011

More Indus Signs: Twelve to Thirteen Strokes

Seal K-67 with single-sign inscription: STRIPED LEAF (XII 31). 
Note also the very unusual cult stand before the unicorn bull.

The thirty-first Indus sign comprised of twelve strokes is another STRIPED LEAF (XII 31).  In the literature, it is enumerated KP112 (9 strokes), Fs E-6a (also 9 strokes), and in Wells’ 254c, 258, and 261.  I group together the variations that include twelve strokes, including one variant of W254 (11 total occurrences of all variants), W258 (one occurrence at Kalibangan), and W261 (one occurrence at Mohenjo daro).  Thus, I see 13 total occurrences of all variants of the STRIPED LEAF.  Fairservis identifies this as a pipal leaf, defining it as “head/high superior, Chief, God.”

Minoan nodule CMS120a with inscription: ru + ne (parallels to Indus LEAF & COMB).

Although plants appear in many scripts and are frequent among the symbols elsewhere, I have seen no exact duplicate of the Indus sign.  The closest, perhaps, is the Linear A syllabic sign ru, similar in outline to the simple LEAF without internal stripes.  This Cretan sign, however, does not come to a peak.  There are simply two curved “arms” on a “stem.”

Bar seal M-389 with inscription: SINGLE POST / STRIPED CHEVRON / VEE IN DIAMOND / POT.

Indus sign XII 32 is a second STRIPED CHEVRON, this one with rounded ends.  Elsewhere, it is primarily found as a variant of the symbol with square ends, KP195 and Fs K-2.  Wells enumerates this rounded version separately (W260).  There is a single occurrence of this variation, found at Mohenjo daro (M-389).
Proto-cuneiform signs ERIN, "cedar tree/wood," (above) and LA~e, "abundance, wealth" (below).

Proto-cuneiform includes three different versions of an “L” shaped sign containing internal striping.  Depending on how the basic element is oriented and the arrangement of the internal stripes, this become ERIN, “cedar tree, cedar wood,” LA, “abundance, wealth,” and TUN, “pocket, pouch.”  None of these is oriented to resemble a chevron, however.

Next in my list of Indus signs is CIRCLED COMB AND BISECTED RECTANGLE (XII 33), also known as W379.  It is a singleton from Harappa (H-558).  Koskenniemi and Parpola note a variation or perhaps perceive the sign itself differently (see KP371).  Their depiction includes the COMB with four “teeth” along with a bisected circle.
Seal M-159 with inscription: STRIPED BATTERY WITH ATTACHED LOOP / POTTED ONE / STACKED 7 BETWEEN PARENS / POT (while my rendition is poor, in the photo, the LOOP is clearly attached to the BATTERY).

Another sign variously interpreted is STRIPED BATTERY WITH ATTACHED LOOP (XII 34), found elsewhere as KP291.  Fairservis might view this as a ligature of the LOOP (his L-3) and the STRIPED BATTERY (his G-2), combining “structure, house,” and an affix meaning “great, chief.”  Perhaps he would conclude that XII 34 represents the house of the chieftain?  It is interesting to note that Wells separates the two elements of this sign, depicting the STRIPED BATTERY as one sign (my X 10, with two occurrences in two variants) and the LOOP as another (my II 10).
Seal H-4 with inscription: STACKED NINE UNDER TABLE / DOWN BI-FORK / FISH.

There follows sign XII 35, STACKED NINE UNDER TABLE, found elsewhere as KP137, W223, and Fs F-10.  This is another of the symbols that Fairservis defines as “rain.”  Wells notes that it occurs just once, at Harappa (H-4). 
Two variants of proto-cuneiform sign GI6, "black, dark."

In proto-cuneiform, a series of dots or short marks appears beneath another element in two different signs, neither of which is entirely numerical.  The more common is GI6, which came to mean “(to be) black, dark.”  It resembles a “stacked eight” beneath a chevron, then rotated 90 degrees as is typical of this form of proto-writing.  A variation makes use of a curved element like the Indus ROOF, beneath which there are 14 or so dots randomly arranged.  The second example is |SZU2.2(N57)|, the numeral “two” beneath the same chevron, as “two portions.”  Thus, the apparent numeral in the Indus sign might be related to an actual number, paralleling the second example in proto-cuneiform.  On the other hand, the strokes might well be non-enumerative, as in GI6.  Depite Fairservis’ claim that such strokes universally depict rain, they represent darkness in ancient Iraq.
Indus sign XII 36, EF PRONGED VEE IN DIAMOND, as shown in Koskenniemi and Parpola (KP394).

The final twelve-stroke Indus sign is EF PRONGED VEE IN DIAMOND (XII 36).  It appears in the list of Koskenniemi and Parpola as KP394, but not elsewhere.  I have not seen it.  Perhaps this team of researchers interpreted one or another of the VEE IN DIAMOND WITH ATTACHED SHISH KEBABS as this symbol?
Proto-cuneiform SAR~b, a surface measure; like Indus XII 36, it includes a pronged element
(here, two reeds) and an angular element to which the former are attached (here, a rectangle).

In any case, proto-cuneiform provides no precise parallel.  But SAR~b includes a rectangle from which extend two “grain ears.”  It came to represent a measure of reeds cut by a worker and then a surface measure.  It may originally have designated a garden plot.
Bar seal M-379 with inscription: CORN HOLDER / TRIPLE TRIANGLES /
CRAB / POT-HATTED BEARER ("g" variant).

The first sign including thirteen strokes is not an apparent numeral, since no “numeral” larger than 12 appears to be an Indus sign.  Instead, there is another variation on the popular POT HATTED BEARER, this one without arms or body.  Unlike the previous versions, the “legs” are not a continuation of the sides of the “pot.”  In two of the published lists, only the variation with a distinct body, arms, and legs appears (KP4 and Fs A-8).  Wells shows nine variants (W8a-i).  Of the latter, two variants include 13 strokes, namely, “f” and “g.”  These two differ mainly in the size of the “jugs” being carried, with those in “f” larger than those in “g.”  Wells counts 19 of the armless version, while I count as many as 53.  Of those, one is variant “f,” and six variant “g.”  Fairservis defines all versions as “great guardian,” an administrative title.
Seal M-802 with inscription: STRIPED ANT / BISECTED TRIANGLE /

The second thirteen-stroke sign is MAN WITH TWO STRIPED EARS (XIII 2), also known as KP8, W45, and Fs A-2.  Fairservis apparently sees hair in the “ears,” identifying this sign as a depiction of a woman, meaning “to take care of.”  The “ears” might instead be a very small STRIPED LEAF on top of the MAN sign, thus a ligature.  Since the sign appears only once (M-802), it is difficult if not impossible to say anything more.
Broken seal H-481 with single-sign inscription: MAN WITH STRIPED TAIL HOLDING POST.

The next sign is MAN WITH STRIPED TAIL HOLDING POST (XIII 3), found only in Wells’ list (W51).  It is another singleton, from Harappa (H-481).  Many depictions of Egyptian notables include a tail, apparently an item worn for symbolic and ceremonial reasons.  But it is not clear that the “tail” in the Indus sign really represents an animal’s tail.  It might represent a garment.  Then again, it could simply be a ligatured element, such as the STRIPED TRIANGLE.
Detail from seal H-477 with inscription: SPACESHIP / STRIPED FLANGE TOPPED POT /

The following sign is also anthropomorphic, MAN WITH TWO ANKLETS (XIII 4).  It too appears only in Wells (W59).  Once more, it is a singleton from Harappa (H-477).  It is interesting to note that both the MAN with “ears” and this one have counterparts bearing only one element.  Symmetrical symbols are more common around the world.  Thus, the asymmetrical variations may be unique to the Indus Valley.
That concludes today’s post, necessarily briefer than usual due to the rarity of the signs listed and the paucity of parallels.

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