The Mohenjo-daro dancing girl is one of the earliest existing representations of a young female in human history. She comes from the ancient Harrappan culture of North India and since she is made of copper using the cire perdue or lost wax method, this petite figure is quite a technical achievement.

Unknown, Mohenjo-daro dancing girl, c.2500 BCE, National Museum of India, Delhi. ©Kathleen Cohen, World Images Project.

Unknown, Mohenjo-daro dancing girl, c.2500 BCE, National Museum of India, Delhi. ©Kathleen Cohen, World Images Project.

We do not know if this is meant to be a depiction of a particular individual girl, but it is more likely that she is an idealized figure of girl dancers generally. This suggestion is even more plausible when we consider how her elongated limbs and heavily ornamented body are employed to emphasize the spectacle and display of the performance.

Dance is an important aspect of girlhood and dancers have been depicted through out the art history of many cultures. As she was one of many similar statues, we can assume dance as ritual or celebration was significant in the Indus Valley. Perhaps they were used in ceremonies or as teaching tools for girls to practice for performances. At any rate, she is evidence of advanced figure representation long before the Greeks.

 

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