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Sculptures > Hindu > Dancing Ganesha
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Dancing Ganesha

Dancing Ganesha

Dancing Ganesha

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South Indian Temple Wood Carving

44.0 inch X 22.0 inch X 7.0 inch
23.85 kg
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Dancing Ganesha

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Viewed 4952 times since 21st May, 2011
This excellent image, carved out of a single piece of wood, the fine well tempered teak or Bangai, and brilliantly painted, giving it rare lustre, represents Lord Ganesha as engaged in dance, vigorous, revealing great beauty, and brimming with tremendous energy and movement. An example of astonishing anatomy : a body composed of six arms, a pot-belly, large trunk and carrying various attributes, all encumbering it, balanced on the back of his mount mouse supported just over a single foot, the image is a real challenge for a detached statue as this. Unlike other divinities who danced to a form and for accomplishing an objective : Shiva, to destroy and delight, Vishnu, to annihilate the demon king Mahabali, Krishna, to subdue serpent Kaliya, and Kali, to collect blood of Raktabija demons wherever it fell in the battlefield, Ganesha danced beyond form, effortless and without an objective. Though dance defines one of his classical forms as ‘Nratya-Ganapati’, there bursts, in the demeanour of his legs, arms, or rather in his entire being – physical and spiritual, twists or moves of dance and delightful rhythm. Dance is the inherent idiom of the physiognomy of Lord Ganesha and he is one of its four 'Adigurus' – first exponents, the other three being Shiva, Kali and Vishnu in his incarnations as Vamana and Krishna.

This image of Lord Ganesha, though it seems to have emerged out of its medium as naturally as sprouts a leaf from a twig, presents a blend of iconographic elements of his two classical forms – Nratya-Ganapati and Urdhva Ganapati. Apart, it also incorporate some elements of the artist’s own innovation, especially the facial expressions and the mystic dimensions which the image is made to reveal by its octagonal thrust that its graphic transform effects. Symbolically interpreted, such octagonal dimensions : octagon being an auspicious diagram creating and circulating energy and thereby life, stand for both, the massive energy flow and its guided course. The whirlwind like moving body of Ganapati in this image does not affect the composure of the face and to it the artist has added far greater benignity. With a mark of ‘Aum’ carved on the trunk’s upper part the auspicious Lord Ganesha multiplies auspiciousness.

This image of Ganesha inherits its six-armed form from the iconography of Urdhva Ganapati though except the broken tusk the attributes that the image carries in its hands are different. Lord Ganesha in his Urdhva Ganapati manifestation is conceived as carrying sprig of paddy, lotus, sugar-cane bow, arrow and water lily. This figure of Ganapati carries, instead of these, an elephant goad, noose, mango, mace and serpent. Broken tusk is common in both forms. In his Nratya Ganapati form too he carries broken tusk. Nratya Ganapati carries, besides the broken tusk, elephant goad, noose and ‘laddu’. This image is carrying elephant goad and noose and instead of carrying a ‘laddu’ has a basket of ‘laddus’ lying close by. He carries in addition a mango, mace and serpent. His figure has been conceived gold-complexioned, which is his body colour in his both forms, Urdhva Ganapati as well as Nratya Ganapati.

A simple innocent-looking face with 'tripunda' mark on the forehead and semi-circular ears with bolder inside edges projecting like a question mark, characteristic features of Urdhva Ganapati form, define this image of dancing Ganesha. But, besides that his figure has been transformed into a dancer’s form, the exaltation and ecstasy that reveal on the face of this image certainly class him as Nratya Ganapati. This form of Lord Ganesha portrays him in 'lasya', the expressions of lovable tenderness, and that which reveals great aesthetic beauty. The statue is rare in rhythmic curves, unique balance of parts, unity of conflicting elements, exoticism of figure and its power to delight. The queerly looking pot-belly, rounded ankles and knotted knees, and forms of arms : zigzag creating strange geometry, are quite curious and interesting attributes of this figure of the elephant god. Not able to hold on his extra swelled belly both his girdle and loincloth have slipped leaving his belly fully exposed.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.

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