(Last Updated on : 19/07/2013)
Pottery of the Harappan civilization is of a unique kind. The most striking ceramic ware is a heavy sturdy ware of superior fabric, pink or red in colour in the section and on surface. The word 'superior' is used here to indicate the use of fine clay in making the vessels which are well-fired, resulting in a sturdy ware. Almost all the vessels have a smooth surface and are painted in black over red. The characteristic Harappan types found in the red ware in Rangpur include the small jar with a small neck, beaded rim, globular body and footed base, jar with a beaded rim and bulbous body, large storage-jar with thick walls and a Lat rim, small jar with a flaring rim, dish with a projected rim and carinated shoulder, a dish with an incurved or internally beaded rim, dish-on-stand, basin with a projected beaded rim, blunt-carinated shoulder and flat base, jar-stand, goblet with an elongated base, beaker, lid with a knob in the interior and cylindrical perforated jar.
Buff ware are some of the red ware vessels of Rangpur have a buff slip or patches of buff along with red owing to differential firing. They are often painted in chocolate or pinkish colour. The only type exclusive to the buff ware is ajar with a flaring rim, bulbous body and pinched ear. The coarse red ware meant for rough use occurs in a limited quantity. The clay used for making the vessels is not levigated; and grit, such as dung or powered pottery, is added to the clay. The jar with a flaring rim and bowl with a nail headed or beaked rim is common types.
Coarse Grey Ware was similarly meant for rough use such as cooking. The vessels are rendered porous by the use of grit and the surface is rough, slip-less and rarely burnished. A common type in this ware is the jar with a flaring rim and convex profile. Coarse grey vessels are generally decorated with incised designs.
Some of the vessels show a poor treatment of the surface, and at times the fabric is also coarse, e.g. the dish-on-stand, storage jar bowl and dish. Secondly, minor changes in the shape of certain vessels like the convex-sided bowl jar with a small neck, stands on dishes and storage jars are visible. The colour-scheme adopted for painting is light black, chocolate or light red over a buff or greenish-buff background. The course red ware continued to be in limited use and it does not undergo any major change.
Careful examination will reveal an evolution in the technique of decoration and forms of vessels. The jar with a small neck develops a higher neck and an ovoid body in this period. The fabric is coarse and painting mostly confined to the upper half of the vessel surface. So far as the convex-sided bowl is concerned types 10 to 13 can be said to have been evolved from types 28 and 29. The dish with a projected rim and a prominently-carinated shoulder develops a beaded rim and the carination also disappears slowly.
Three important types may be noted in the coarse grey ware. One of them is the spouted jar with a sharp carinated shoulder and ring-footed base. The other two types are the jar with a bottle neck and globular body and the jar with a high neck and beaded rim. Another ceramic ware which is very distinct from the sturdy red ware and the coarse red ware is the Lustrous Red Ware.
The ceramic industry may be said to represent the transitional phase of a degenerate Harappan culture. It is therefore evident that the Harappan culture was not static and did not disappear suddenly. While showing signs of decay, in course of time it rejuvenated itself by reviving some of the earlier ceramic traditions and evolving new ones in the transitional phase, which, in fact, is the formative stage of a full-fledged Lustrous Red Ware Culture. The shallow bowl with a footed base and jar with a high neck are also found in the Lustrous Red Ware. Besides these types the dish becomes popular. It is mostly non-carinated and has a beaded rim. A common type in the coarse red ware is the jar with a high neck and a bulbous body. Some of the jars have thick walls and a smooth surface, while others have thin walls with a rough surface.
The stemmed bowl jar with a convex profile and rounded base, storage-jar with a flanged shoulder and deep bowls with tapering sides are some of the important types in coarse grey ware. Vessels are decorated with incised designs. Some vessels are stamped with floral and geometric designs and occasionally treated with a red slip. Painting is normally confined to the upper half of the vessels of the Harappan civilization. The designs are mostly linear and geometric. Among painted animal motifs are the deer, bull and duck. Leaf, creeper, fish-net and fronds are other naturalistic motifs. Animal-figures are more stylized. The bull with 'x' shaped horns and row of ducks are new. The Black-and-Red Ware was the result of a variation in the techniques of firing of a major ceramic industry of the site.
About two hundred and twenty-two of the excavated potsherds bear graffiti-marks, which range in form from simple strokes to intricate geometric and naturalistic designs. The graffiti-marks can be classified into three main groups which are; Group one, Group two and Group three. The first group comprises human motifs, animal motifs and bird motifs while the Group two consists of linear symbols such as simple vertical strokes, the arrow-marks, the trident and the rectangle, from which more intricate symbols evolve. The third group consists of combinations of several linear signs.