A son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha is one of the most popular of Hindu deities. Known as the Lord of New Beginnings, offerings are presented to him at the start of any new venture or journey. He is also the god of wisdom and learning, the bestower of wealth and the remover of obstacles.
This statue is a fine example of Orissan bronze-casting. The elephant-headed god sits on a lotus throne and in his four hands he is holding an elephant-goad, a cobra, a bowl of cakes, and one of his tusks, which is always shown broken off. His vahana, a mouse, is sitting on the base of the statue looking up at Ganesha.
There are several myths surrounding the reason that Ganesha has an elephant’s head on a child-like body. One of these says that Shiva was away when Ganesha was born and on returning to find a male youth at his house with his wife, he cut off the youth’s head. When Parvati told him who the boy was, Shiva offered to bring him back to life. He asked one of his servants to go out and bring back the head of the first thing he met, which turned out to be an elephant.
(The style and decoration is very similar to, but about a century later than, an ivory carving of Ganesha now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, accession number 64.102.)
Harle, J. C., and Andrew Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1987), no. 52 on pp. 43-44, pp. 3, 11, 35, & 43, pl. 8 (colour) & p. 44
Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 24 May 2006-23 December 2008, Treasures: Antiquities, Eastern Art, Coins, and Casts: Exhibition Guide, Rune Frederiksen, ed. (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2006), no. 31 on p. 15, illus. p. 15 fig. 31
Branfoot, Crispin, ‘Pilgrimage in South Asia: Crossing Boundaries of Space and Faith’, Ruth Barnes and Crispin Branfoot, eds, Pilgrimage: The Sacred Journey (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2006), p. 52, illus. p. 52 fig. 44
Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2006, Pilgrimage: The Sacred Journey, Ruth Barnes and Crispin Branfoot, eds. (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2006), p. 52, illus. p. 52 fig. 44
Chubby elephant-headed Hindu deity and son of Shiva and Parvati. He is the god of wisdom, bestower of wealth, and remover of obstacles who is invoked at the beginning of any enterprise.
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