In a much later period, women are once again flanked by tigers, caprids and trees, but these are now palms, not pipals.

The goddesses seem to reflect influences from Syria. The Hathor flip and their wide-hipped shape with turned-out feet strongly resemble Hurrian goddesses at Carchemish and Hasanlu. But they show a distinctly Indian character; the tiger and tree connection, especially, goes back to Harappan times.

The stone rings are found only in ancient India. Some have a lotus formation instead of a hollow in the center, which may have been used for pouring libations.

From Patna.



The north Indian ringstones date from the early centuries BCE, and are widespread: from Taxila in the Pakistani hill country, Rupar in the Panjaab, Patna and the Ganga valley.

Ringstone with women flanked by tigers, caprids, trees


The goddesses on this ringstone stand between plants which may be trees but are hard to make out. They are reminiscent of the palmate designs of Canaanite, Israelite, and Syrian art. These are a major theme in the Nimrud ivories and on the Halaf stelas of the late Hurrian era, several centuries before the ringstones.

The women's feet are elongated so that they touch the treelets, a connection which is emphasized in the next image.

From Taxila, north Pakistan

  ringstone with goddesses from Taxila

Another stone ring from Patna shows serial images of a goddess standing in a tree, grasping branches in each hand, with her feet resting on a lotus. She wears bangles and appears to have wings (again a Hurrian goddess trait) or possibly a butterfly headdress. A band of dots highlights her vulva and hips. Such numinous fields around the vulva are found incised or painting on many female figurines from the neolithic period, in many countries across southwest Asia, northeast Africa, and southern Europe.


detail from ringstone at Patna

Left: a Syrian plaque of the Middle Bronze Age (such dating leaves something to be desired) with the same motif of the goddess in the tree as in the Indus seal images, but this time with birds and standing on an winged head. From the Ashmolean collection.

Right: a horned goddess with bangles and long hair stands within a pipal tree and is worshipped by a figure to her right. A bull and seven more female figurines round out the scene. Indus valley seal.

Syrian plaque of goddess between palm tree fronds   woman inside pipal tree and ritual scene with bull

This Tamil figure wears a headdress similar to the Harappan "fan" style, and quite distinct from the polos headress of far western Asia. Provenance unspecified, circa 100 BCE.

  Tamil lady ceramic

A whole array of north Indian sculptures from the early centuries BCE show women wearing piles of fabric draped over the head, a style seen at Mohenjo Daro 2000 years earlier and unique to ancient India.


north Indian plaque with goddess or woman in ceremonial dress

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