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Dancing Ganesha

14 July, 2008 (05:00) | ceramics/metal/stone, medieval, south asia | By: xensen

dancing ganesha from the collection of the walters art museum, baltimore

Here’s another great dancing Ganesha. This one is in the collection of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. From Uttar Pradesh, it dates from the ninth or tenth century. I took this photo of a detail of the sculpture when I was visiting Baltimore recently. The label includes this charming commentary:

Like his father [Shiva], Ganesha combines opposing traits: he is a leader of Shiva’s troops, but he is also lovable (there is a bowl of sweets beneath the tip of his trunk). He dances in imitation of his father’s cosmic dance. Ganesha became the lord of beginnings for Hindus and is prayed to at the start of an endeavor. [See early posts on this blog.] Images such as this one were placed in the southern exterior niche of a temple, to be encountered first in a ritual walk around the outside of a temple.

Dancing Ganesha, 9th-10th century, India: Uttar Pradesh, sandstone, gift of John and Bertha Fora, 2004, 25-253.

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Dancing Ganesha

11 December, 2007 (05:00) | medieval, sculpture, south asia | By: xensen

dancing ganesha from the State Archaeology Museum of IndiaHere’s an interesting dancing Ganesha for comparison with the one from the Asian Art Museum shown at right. Both works are from the tenth century. This one, now in the State Archaeology Museum of India, comes from Padhawal, Morena. The Ganeshas wear similar crowns, are surrounded by similar implements, and hold similar poses. The most obvious difference is in the positions of the legs. While the Asian Art Museum Ganesha leans at a jaunty sideways angle, this one is coiled in a complicated, dynamic pose, his weight more centered.

Ganesha is generally considered to be the son of Shiva and Parvati. There are several stories of how he got his elephant head. Most commonly, it is said that he was beheaded by Shiva, who then in remorse replaced his head with that of an elephant.

Despite his stocky form and big belly, Ganesha often dances. He is carefree and cheerful, yet he is also a patron of scholars and students. It is not difficult to image lively music inspiring this Ganesha to dance.

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