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There is very little on the legitimate market from the "true" Indus Valley Civilzation which was fairly close to the Indus River in what is now Pakistan and mainly in the province of Sindh. Here were the famous sites of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.
A great deal of pottery and many terracotta figurines, (and also countless numbers of fake terracota figurines!) , have come out of Balochistan provence and North West Pakistan near the Afghanistan border since the recent conflict there. Whether this material is truly of Indus Civilization "outpost" origin or is from autonomous civilizations is still something which is undecided.
Similar material came out of this arera in the early and mid 1980s during the Soviet Afghanistan period of turmoil.
The images here from a collection of such material are almost exclusively from this earlier time when such pottery was on the international market and indeed a few more unusal pieces were acquired quite some time before then.
Generally speaking, looking at the diversity of motifs and sheer charm of much of this collection it is probable that it derives from somewhere near but not exactly from the same areas which the flood of more recent pottery comes from.
Books concerning this corpus of pottery are not easy to acquire. There are few publications suitable for collectors and much of the archaeological work is not published in English.
This is an interesting website about Baluchistan archaeology.
Much of the material on the market is Nal and circa 2500 BC. Some is Kuli Culture and some Nindowari and some Mehgarh.
Nal pottery is well-known to archeologists of this region for its bold linear styles and unexpected use of colour that took ancient motifs in new directions. In particular, Nal pottery is characterized by geometric repetition of shapes and lines often in an echoing or rippling fashion. Nal pottery can be often be distinguished from other pottery in the region by its distinctive raised, ring foot.
This type of pottery was fired at very high temperature and produced a fairly fragile composition. Not surprisingly, a very large proportion of Indus pottery objects show some sign of repair.
The very best resource for info for such pottery is
History of Civilizations in Central Asia edited by V. M. Masson Dani A. H. and Janos Harmatta.
But itís difficult to get hold of and very expensive.
The chapters by J G Shaffer and B K Y Thappar , page page 244 onwards can be read here:
The first excavations at Sohr Damb, the principal site of the Nal culture, took place in 1925. They revealed a cultural horizon, whose pottery from the technical and aesthetical aspect belongs to the most remarkable productions of the early 3rd millennium BC. After this time the area was not accessible for over 50 years due to political conditions.
A cursory read of such as Dilip K Chakrabarti's India: An Archaeological History or the many archaeological articles available online such as will demonstate the degree of debate and complexity in the archaeology of this area of the world.
The known cultures from the Balochistan mounds can be placed in into two main categories, 1) Buff-ware cultures, and 2) Red-ware cultures.
These groups are characterized by the use of a buff or yellow background or use of a red background to the painted designs of their pottery Buff-ware cultures:
i) The Quetta culture (from the sites in the Bolan Pass)
ii) The Amri-Nal culture (from two sites, the first in Sindh, and the 2nd at the head of the Nal Valley in Balochistan).
iii) The Kulli culture (from a site in Kolwa the south of Balochistan). Red-ware culture:
iv) The Zhob cultures (from sites in the Zhob valley in the north of Balochistan).
The buff-ware of the culture is comparable with very early pottery at Tal-i-Bakun (Persepolis) and Susa in Southern Iran and may be the earliest yet identified in Pakistan, probably before 3000 B.C
This first piece shown above is actually Kushan.
The Kushan Empire (Sanskrit: कुषाण राजवंश, Kuṣāṇ Rājavaṃśa) originally formed in the 1st century AD in the territories of ancient Bactria on either side of the middle course of the Oxus River or Amu Darya in what is now northern Afghanistan, and southern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
During the 1st and early 2nd centuries AD the Kushans expanded rapidly across the northern part of the Indian subcontinent at least as far as Saketa and Sarnath near Varanasi (Benares) where inscriptions have been found dated to the first few years of era of the most famous Kushan ruler, Kanishka which apparently began about 127 AD.
The Kushan kings were a branch of the Yuezhi confederation (possibly intermarried with local families) and they had diplomatic contacts with Rome, Persia and Han China. While much philosophy, art, and science was created within its borders, the only textual record we have of the empire's history today comes from inscriptions and accounts in other languages, particularly Chinese. The empire declined from 3rd century and fell to the Sassanid empire and Gupta Empire.
Some unusually nice Nal pottery closed form bowls from a collection in the UK. Some of these are available; email me if you are possibly interested .
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