This “Seated Ganesha” is a sculpture showing Ganesha crowned and bejewelled holding objects associated with one of India’s beloved gods: a battle-axe, a lotus, a bowl of sweets and his broken tusk. Ganesha’s elephant head and his multiple arms is a mark of his divine nature. Elephants carry complicated symbolism in the Indian culture and have a long been associated with fertility and prosperity.
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.
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 extends 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.
Ganesha is a popular figure in Indian art with depictions that have wide variations and distinct patterns in its visual history. Ganesha has been portrayed standing, dancing, heroically fighting demons, playing with his family as a boy, or sitting down on a high seat, or engaging in a range of contemporary situations.
Ganesha images were prevalent in many parts of India by about the 6th century. The influence of ancient iconographic elements in this example from the 13th century can still be seen in contemporary representations of Ganesha.
- Title: Seated Ganesha
- Dates: 1200 – 1300
- Provenience: Karnataka, India
- Materials: Schist
- Museum: Asian Art Museum – San Francisco
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“The worth of the shade is only known when the sun is beating down hot.”
– Indian Proverb
Photo Credit: JOM