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  • 1979.013 View A

Ganesha

8th century

possibly Tamil Nadu, India

Sandstone, quartz/quartzose arenite variety

H. 49 1/2 in. (125.7 cm)

Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.13

on view Licensing inquiries


This ten-armed Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati, is worshipped as the god of good luck and the remover of obstacles. Six of his ten hands perform gestures commonly used in dance. The other four hold a rosary, a snake, a bowl of sweets, and a broken tusk. According to one legend, Ganesha detached the tusk to use as a pen when he acted as scribe for an Indian sage who was reciting the Hindu epic story, the Mahabharata. Another tale relates that the portly Ganesha hurled his tusk at the moon in embarrassment after the moon sees his stomach burst from overeating. The format of this image suggests that it fit into a large exterior wall niche, probably on a temple dedicated to Shiva. When placed in such a context, at least from the 8th century onwards, Ganesha often appears in the central offset niche of a temple's southern wall.