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This magnificent brass-cast anodized in copper tint manifesting divine energy that bursts when his figure surges with the moves of dance, represents the rapt Ganapati engaged in ecstatic dance, the child-like innocence defining his face, and rhythm, every part of his figure : dance, a dimension of his image that best defines his entire being, and so it defines this cute four-armed form of the elephant god. Like his father Lord Shiva who performs Tandava, the dance to dissolve and annihilate, with sublime calm and contentment on his face, the figure of Lord Ganesha whirls wind-like but the innocence on his face is absolute and unperturbed. Different from his usual dance forms revealing his sportiveness, enthusiasm, or delightful mood, this dance form represents him as signaling annihilation and ensuring protection thereby. His left leg lifted and missile-like shot into vacuum, and the left hand, signaling release, and corresponding moves of his other two hands and the trunk, all are the aspects of Tandava.
However, what makes this form of Lord Ganesha different from Shiva’s Tandava, as also from his other forms is his dance-costume covering his figure completely from neck to feet, and his all four arms. Even in his regular image-form Lord Ganesha is not seen putting on any costume except an ‘antariya’ – lower wear, and sometimes a sash, in most manifestations his sole ensemble – minimum but also maximum. Obviously the costume he is putting on in this image is not his style of ensemble but perhaps the vocabulary of a South Indian dance – Bharata Natyam, Katha-kali, Kuchipudi, or any, performed with specific costumes – an aspect the artist seems to have borrowed from that tradition. His costume – deep fire-like, blazing but in high flames, consists of a tight-fitted full-sleeve upper wear and an ‘antariya’ tightly wrapped around both legs separately. While the ‘antariya’ obtains its aesthetic level in its beautiful pleating, the upper wear obtains it in its embellishment – various design-patterns, some quite bold and prominent, interwoven into its texture.
Though this image form is widely different from his routine dance-forms, ‘nratya’ – dance, is the essence of Lord Ganesha’s iconography, and Nratya Ganapati, one of his most usual image-types. His inherent nature, dance defines the anatomy of almost all images of Lord Ganesha however different one from the other, and in whichever degree it manifests. The same pot-belly, elephant trunk and massive form that make his figure cumbersome and unmanageable, heralds a figural geometry which most naturally transforms into dance-curves and rhythm and produce a feeling of strangeness and charm. It is a bit easy to carve such dancing figure on a plaque or rock but it is as much difficult to sculpt or cast it independent and isolated standing unsupported. Further, in such an isolated image the magnitude of the artist’s challenge is multiplied for while in carving on a plaque he might compromise on dimensionality, the figure’s thickness in particular, in an isolated image, and more so if such image gesticulates a dance form or is rhythmically vibrating, as is this image, he is required to carve entire anatomy lifelike and with great sense of balance.
Like a lyric in which the poet’s fancy takes a form and soars high in the sky this image of Lord Ganesha – rhythm taking a form, rises over a multi-tiered tall base, the bottom consisting of a course of rectangular mouldings – the lotus motifs defining one of them, and the upper, circular consisting of a fully blooming lotus. Lord Ganesha is balancing his entire figure on his right leg which far from being just a pole-like erect is itself the part of the figure’s total geometry. It supports on it not merely a massive figure but a figure manifesting as massive an activity – a massive form winding faster than a cyclone. Besides his left leg uplifted and moved to right, and the normal right and left hands ensuring protection and signaling dissolution, he has flung his other two arms, the upper right holding his favourite battle-axe, and the upper left, holding noose, widely to right and left. Unable to stay there any more the serpent relinquishes his whirl-wind like moving figure, and correspondingly float into air his sash-ends, and his trunk twists and knots. Couched on the top of the pedestal his tiny mouse witnesses its Master’s divine act.