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Old Tamil texts.43) It is remarkable that not only does the sign combina- tion ‘crab’ + ‘fish’ (corresponding to the Tamil compound ko$ n-m¥$ _n) occur three times in the Indus inscriptions, but the identity of the subsequent sequence in two parallel inscriptions (M-57 and M-387) suggests that this combination, ‘crab’ + ‘fish’, is synonymous with the plain ‘crab’ sign, as is Tamil ko$ n-m¥$ _n with ko$ l.

The Combination of ‘Crab’ and ‘Fig’ The interpretation of the ‘crab’ sign can be further checked by examin- ing its combination with the ‘fig’ sign. The ‘fig’ + ‘crab’ ligature is among the few Indus signs for which the copper tablets of Mohenjo- daro function as ‘semi-bilinguals’, mediating their intended meaning visually, through an iconographic image. The copper tablets constitute a rare category of objects with a clear interdependence between the inscription on the obverse and the iconographic motif on the reverse. This is certified by the existence of numerous duplicates, forming sets of identical tablets. In some sets, an isolated sign on the reverse has the same inscription on the obverse as an animal or human-shaped icono-

(Fig. 4) ______________________________

43) Ci_rup$an$a_r_ruppatai 242–4; Pu_ran$an_ $u_ru 392,17; Pattin_ app$alai 67–68. 58

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