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Dancing Ganesha (Asian Art Museum, San Francisco)

Dancing Ganesha - Joy of Museums - Asian Art Museum - San Francisco

Dancing Ganesha

This “Dancing Ganesha” is a sculpture full of movement and represents a favourite theme in South Asian art. Ganesha is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. One of the Ganesha stories involves a battle with a powerful demon that had terrorised the gods. One of Ganesha’s tusks was broken during the struggle which speared the demon and transformed him into a rodent which can be seen below Ganesha’s right foot. Accompanying Ganesha is also his entourage of musicians.

One of Ganesha’s roles is to entertain his parents, which he does by dancing. Hindu mythology identifies him as the son of Parvati and Shiva. The act of dancing is related to the perpetual cycle of creation and destruction, that defines the universe and from which humans seek to escape.

Ganesha’s image can be found throughout India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Nepal. Commercial and cultural contacts extended India’s influence in Asia and Ganesha is one of many Hindu deities who consequently reached many foreign lands. Devotion to Ganesha is widely spread and continues to Jains and Buddhists. Ganesha’s elephant head makes him easy to identify. He is worshipped as the lord of beginnings and as the lord of removing obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the god of intellect and wisdom.

Exploring Asian Art

Reflections

  • Can you visualise Ganesha performing his cosmic dance in this sculpture?

Dancing Ganesha

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“A beautiful woman belongs to everyone; an ugly one is yours alone.”
– Indian Proverb

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Photo Credit: JOM