Humped bull (zebu, or Bos Indicus)

Indus Valley Civilization
3rd millennium BCE
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General Description

The earliest developed civilization on the Indian subcontinent, marked by agriculture, cities, crafts, writing, and a multi-class social system, was centered on the five branches of the Indus River in what is now Pakistan and northwest India. The cities of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro show connections with contemporary civilizations in the Near East. For instance, this type of bull, the ancestor of modern Brahma bulls, appears in both Mesopotamian and Indus valley art. These contacts probably reflect lively trade along the Persian Gulf. The bull is a type of votive offering often found in Indus Valley sites, although it appears as an image on seals. Since farming was the basis of these early people's wealth, animals are a subject of their art.

Adapted from

Anne Bromberg, "Humped bull (zebu, or Bos indicus)" in The Arts of India, South East Asia, and the Himalayas__ (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 30.