Description Ganesha, lord of beginnings and remover of obstacles, dances as two musicians keep rhythm on their drums. He holds many attributes associated with his father, the Hindu god Shiva: a snake held triumphantly above his head, a battle-axe and rosary in two of his right hands, and a trident in one of his left hands. The bowl of sweets is his own: taking one with his trunk, he fills his corpulent belly with the sugary cakes. According to one story, Ganesha once ate so many sweets that his stomach burst open. Seeing this, the moon began to laugh, and in a fit of anger, Ganesha tore off one of his own tusks and threw it at his offender. It is for this reason that Ganesha has only one tusk. This sculpture once would have adorned the wall of a temple. When devotees circumambulated the temple (walked around it in reverence), they are likely to have seen Ganesha before the other deities on the temple’s walls, honoring the lord of beginnings at the outset of their visit. Devotees often worship Ganesha at the beginning of an activity, speaking words of praise and offering flowers, coins, or Ganesha’s favorite sweets, some of which he eats here. Hindu deities are believed to inhabit the images that depict them. By directing their praise and offerings toward this sculpture, devotees worship Ganesha himself.
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- Desire and Devotion: Art from India, Nepal, and Tibet in the John and Berthe Ford Collection. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara; Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham; Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong. 2001-2003.
- Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. 2015-2016.
Provenance Ramesh Kapoor, New York; purchased by John and Berthe Ford, New York, July 25 1983; given to Walters Art Museum, 2004.
Credit Gift of John and Berthe Ford, 2004
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