fish and jar symbol

  Fish symbol:           

This is the first symbol to be properly identified by Father Heras; he identified that “meen” in Tamil means ‘fish’ as well as ‘star’. Asko Parpola has shown the use of the fish as symbol for heavenly bodies. It is a symbolism that the stars swim in the heavenly ocean. So far various interpreters had identified this fish applicable both for stars as well as planet. However it looks like that Indus priests were very specific in usage of fish symbol applicable only to planets and not for star constellations.  The list of planets in Horoscope chart shows that only planets are symbolized with fish sign, whereas only one star constellation is depicted with fish sign. Fish sign with “bar” indicates month and fish sign with “eastern corner sign” (cap sign) indicates that it is sign of Venus.  For other variations in fish signs refer to the details under chapter ‘Navagraha’.  .

  " Mee"  ----- This symbol means “month” in Tamil language.  (  But it is not a regular alphabet and is a specialized religious way of writing in wedding cards or other religious documents. This symbol is being used to depict “Month”. It looks like that in Indus period also the symbol  "mee"  was used to depict a month. It should be noted here that the month symbol “ (mee)" is the extended form of     ’ (Me).  “Maatham” means “month” in Tamil, logically the symbol for month should be simply ‘(maa)" instead of that people are still writing ‘mee’.  This could be the effect of ‘meen’ symbol of Indus people. Even now this letter is in usage, it is a specialized form of alphabet. It looks like that the origin of “mee” symbol is the same as “mee” symbol of Indus civilization. 

   "U"---Jar symbol

 In our quest for new interpretation of the Indus symbol, the key role is being played by this jar symbol. Many of the inscriptions on the seals are ending with this symbol, and this has been identified as jar, but it is not known, what for this jar was used by the Indus people. Wunderlich in his observation saw that the snake motif was occurring frequently in the pithoi found in Minoan palaces. He interpreted it as a symbol of protection of the mummies kept in those jars or funeral urns. There are many kinds of funeral urns some are big enough to keep the mummified body, some are medium sized urn to keep the bones after decomposition of the flesh of the body or remains of bones after burning of corpses, and much smaller ones are used to keep body entrails in case of mummification, as it was done in Egypt. (Wunderlich, 1974)        

     This jar model sketch is drawn after the vase depicted in the book “Myths and legends” by David Bellingham (David Bellingham, 1996) (page 132) in the narration no detail is given about the location of find, (or) where is it available now? The description says that the vase is decorated with animals that represent the 12 months of the year. Beyond that no details are available except that it is a part of Chinese mythology. In my opinion it looks like a funeral pot which could have been used in Chinese Turkmenistan, which was under the central Asian cultural influence during the Indus period days. It might have been used as a funeral urn depicting various animals as protection to the funeral remains inside the urn.  This theory may be a farfetched and imaginative one, but still this “urn” gives a visual idea to the nature of jars used in funeral complexes of Indus culture. These kinds of jars might have been used in the earliest part of Sumerian civilization at Mesopotamia, but by the time it entered into India it is likely that only symbols were being used but actual pots with these designs were not in use. This problem is further compounded by the fact that the grave robbers used to break the pots to quickly grab the valuable things inside the pots.  Because of this reason, we do not get any full unbroken pot specimens.

            Parpola suggested in his book that this symbol "U"looks like the head of a cow. His observation seems to be logical, the identification of various body parts of Kalan shows that this  symbol "U" indicates the head of Kalan, which is a head of a bull and not human head.  Now the contradiction is that there are two explanations for one symbol. This has to be reconciled. In ancient mythology or astrology all the events happening in earth are influenced by the similar events in heaven. For every allegorical expression, there were two events; one in heaven and one in earth. It looks like that the "U" symbol meant head of Kalan in heaven and meant “Death” in earth (or) burial of a dead body after putting into a Pithoi.  Now the relevance of seal correlates with the place of find. As said earlier the Indus culture centres were grave yards and the seals are tokens of identity of the dead persons.

                The funeral priests could have used those tokens as a kind of “label card” as a mark of identification to identify the mummified bodies at the burial chamber as well as to remember the month and date of death of the mummified person. These tokens would have helped the priests as well as family members to remind and remember the date of death of a person so that future anniversary memorial ceremonies could be conducted on the proper Nakshatra. It is the regular practice in Hindu custom even now that the dead person is remembered by way of annual ceremonies and the date is decided, based on the month and Nakshatra, the exact date is not required. One additional detail is required in modern time, to determine it is the waxing phase or waning phase of moon. This is necessary in modern calendar because it is a lunisolar calendar and interaction of moon calendar and solar calendar are interpolated all the time. But in the time of Indus culture period they were using only moon calendar, and there was no need to determine the waxing and waning phase. The movement of moon through 27 Nakshatra constellation decides the day (Thithi = moon day)

         The third explanation for the "U" symbol is that it equalizes the ‘  (vu)' symbol of Tamil. (Refer to the Tamil symbols in the web site ‘Vu ’ symbol denotes ‘day’ in Tamil and even now it is in usage, but this symbol is not regularly used, it is being used only on the special occasions like marriage invitation or funeral card invitation or some important traditional documents. There is no pictorial connection between "U"  symbol and ‘Vu’ (day), the connection is a phonetic value. The burial Pithoi is called as ‘vurai’ (vu-rai) in Tamil.  In fact there are many more words beginning with ‘Vu’ depicting a pot. (Vu-gai, Vun-dai, and Vun-dial) all of them starting with phonetic value ‘Vu’. In addition to that; the word ‘Vurai’ also meant ‘to live in’. It might have meant that the dead person was living inside the funeral pot. All these examples show that there was phonetic value for "U"symbol. Because of this said example the conclusion of Steve Farmer that there is no phonetic value in Indus symbols is partially incorrect. It is likely that many more phonetic values will be decoded after proper deciphering of Indus scripts.


The plain “U” symbol without side attachment of snake motif (plain jar) means sacrificial jar in which blood of sacrificial victim was offered before god. This jar is different from the “funeral jar” mentioned above. The final conclusion is that the logos mentioned in the seal are pictogram and not a script. All the Indus inscriptions are ending with pictogram “ U” means “day” of death preceded by Nakshatra (day= Thithi) and month. Many a times the month names are also similar to the Nakshatra name, because some important and popular names of Nakshatra were being used as month name. The Indus priest were in dilemma, how to differentiate between month and date? That problem was solved by putting “quotation” (“) mark over (or) adjacent to the month symbol. While reading the Indus seal, it should be always remembered that any symbol with quotation mark specify a month