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This 42" tall and 21" wide magnificent Ganapati statue, elaborately carved out of a single log of teakwood, largely adheres to the Trimukha Ganapati iconography. Besides that the image has three faces and six arms, it has a strong contemplative demeanour, which is one of the main attributes of Trimukha Ganapati form. Scriptures have conceived Trimukha Ganapati as having red complexion, seated on a golden lotus, turning beads or having a rosary, pot of nectar and holding his hands in abhaya and varada. This Ganapati image does not have red complexion but its massive use of red in costume, crown and over-all ornamentation creates the required impact. The golden lotus, as his seat, has been replaced here by the Mushaka but the Mushaka is saddled in rose-like pink and it wears rosy beads. Similarly, instead of rosary, the Great Lord is carrying in his uppermost hands on both sides nooses, but their suspending strings exactly resemble a rosary and he appears as if counting beads. Again, the pot of nectar has been replaced by a Purnaghata motif, which the deity is carrying in his lowermost right hand. In Indian tradition, the auspicious Purnaghata, pot filled with water and a coconut and mango leaves surmounting it, symbolises all three cosmic regions pot ocean; coconut the sky and all known and unknown universes; and mango leaves the earth, the symbol of spiritual and worldly fruition. He is carrying in his middle hands broken tusk and sweet but their gesture corresponds to abhaya and varada. Besides, he has a mace in his lower left hand. Though held quite casually, this instrument of chastising evil-doers assures further protection abhaya.
The most significant aspect that the artist has added to this Trimukha Ganapati image here is the elephant god's rapturous dance, which he is performing even while riding his Mushaka. The mood of the divine being reveals not in any boisterous activity but rather in its spirit, its inner strength, which, instead of bursting in his form, expresses itself with unique composer. He has sweet in his hand but none of his trunks inclines to it. As if in ecstatic trance, they remain where they are, unmoved and introvert. From the divine dance radiates divine bliss all around, which Trimukha Ganapati multiplies many times. Mudgal Purana acclaims that the bliss is absolute when the great Lord is engaged in dance as there radiates from it light and the darkness is not allowed to peep in. Besides, when he positions one of his feet earthward and the other horizontally or skyward, there is created a magnetic circuit with cosmic magnitude, which brings the earth and the regions below and above the earth into its range and the delight of the deity becomes the divine bliss of the entire creation.
This Trimukha Ganapati image has strong elements of Orissa art style. Orissa has a very early tradition of Ganapati images. They are mostly in the dance mode and are placed against a Prabhavali topped by Shrimukha motif. In the modeling of the lower half of this image, the artist is largely influenced by the 10th-11th century Ganesh image from Bengal, now in the Indian Museum, Calcutta. It suggests artist's adherence to India's age-old tradition and iconographic perception.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.