Painted Indus Script on Ceramics and Steatite:

New Insights on Indus Script Calligraphy and Function


  • Jonathan Mark Kenoyer University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA


Painted Indus Script, Inscribed Pottery, Seals, Inscribed Bangles


Painted Indus script on ceramics and steatite tablets provide a unique perspective of the production and possible function of one form of ancient Indus writing. The use of a brush to execute writing requires a very different type of dexterity compared to incising or engraving. Indus potters and steatite bead makers were highly skilled at making and using brushes in their artistic decoration of pottery and beads and these artists may have had a direct role in the painting of Indus script on pottery or steatite tablets, though other specialists may also have been involved in this task. The processes for preparing pottery and steatite with painted script will be discussed and the ways in which brushes were used in writing script will be examined. The use of painted script will be compared with incised texts and the possible apotropaic functions of these texts examined. The implications of painted script on other perishable materials will also be discussed.




How to Cite

Kenoyer, J. M. (2022). Painted Indus Script on Ceramics and Steatite:: New Insights on Indus Script Calligraphy and Function. Ancient Pakistan, 32, 1-15. Retrieved from



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