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'Proto-Indian Ceramics' by Dr. S. Srikanta Sastri

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Published in "The Indian Historical Quarterly", Vol XVI (1940), Calcutta. 

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'Proto-Indian Ceramics' by Dr. S. Srikanta Sastri

The great importance for the study of Proto-History of ceramics has been realised in the west, and, as is well-known, the reconstruction of the story of pre-historic civilisations has been made possible by the scientific principles enunciated by Sir Flinders Petrie and Sir Arthur Evans. In India the excavations conducted hitherto (rather haphazard), have brought to light much material, but due to the lack of continuity, and local variations on account of many stages of culture in this vast country, a scientific classification has not yet been attempted. The excavations at Chanhu-Daro prove, according to Mackay (1), the existence of three stages of culture on that site and since he has made an attempt to fix the chronology of the Harappa, Jhukar and Jhangar cultures, it is necessary to examine by a comparative study of pottery, whether his system of chronology can be taken as proved.  


As a tough criterion of the evolution of the art of ceramics, the shape of poetry advances from the primitive ball of clay with a slight depression to models based upon basketry, gourds, leather vessels, chalices, beakers, ladles, spouted and handled vases, theriomorphic forms, tabular stands, twin-vases, wickerstands, stoppers, figurines etc. As regards colour, the earliest pottery sun-baked is generally brown and grey; pale, black, red, black and red, dark-grey, monochrome, polychrome and finally glazed. Of course this cannot be the invariable rule because of accidental colouring due to the composition of the clay; thus in Egypt, the Tasian ware is grey or black, due to uneven firing but blackened inside. At Merinde, it is generally black-faced and Badari pottery is brown or red and the rim and insides are blackened.   

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