This adherence to tradition in conceiving and carving these twin images of the elephant god goes further. Keeping in mind that the images carved could also be used as sanctum images the artist chooses for them the standard forms of Ganapati iconography as set early texts and evolved in tradition across centuries. He has chosen for these images the iconographic model of Ganesha as Ekadanta, one of his earliest eight manifestations, some defining his anatomy, and other, his mind. Of these eight forms, Ekadanta – single-tusked, Dhumravarna – smoke-coloured, Vakratunda – one with curved trunk, Mahodara – one with big belly, Gajanana – elephant-faced, Lambodara – one with corpulent belly, and Vikata – deformed, relate to various forms of his anatomy, while the eighth, Vighnaraja – the king of obstacles or one who contained detriments, to his basic nature and attitude of mind. Most of his forms in his subsequent classical iconography, mainly the thirty-two that the Mudgala Purana finally enumerates, are largely the expansion of these eight basic forms.
The basic form of both Ganapati images, represented as enshrining two independent niches or sections of the Prabhavali, is Ekadanta, though they also incorporate elements of his other forms, Vijay Ganapati and Srashti Ganapati in particular, his two other classical forms evolved in the course of time. The basic imagery of both, Vijay Ganapati and Srashti Ganapati, seems to have evolved largely out of Ekadanta iconography. In almost all forms the elephant god is represented as single-tusked but in his Ekadanta form, as here in these twin-images, this aspect of his iconography is more thrusting. While the left tusk is quite large and pointed, the right – broken one, is almost blunted.
Ekadanta, Vijay Ganapati and Srashti Ganapati are four-armed forms of Lord Ganesha, though while Ekadanta carries in his hands a rosary, broken tusk, axe and laddu, Vijay Ganapati and Srashti Ganapati carry a goad, noose, mango and broken tusk. The twin-images present a blend of both. They borrow goad and noose from Vijay Ganapati and Srashti Ganapati, while the broken tusk and laddu, from his Ekadanta form. What links the twin-images decisively with Ekadanta iconography is the body colour of the twin-images. While Vijay Ganapati and Srashti Ganapati are red-hued, Ekadanta is blue-bodied. In mythical terminology black, as in case of Vishnu and Vaishnava incarnations, is alluded to as blue. Obviously, artist’s choice of black wood for these twin-images of Ganapati is not casual. He has used it for representing the body-colour of the two images in accordance to the Ekadanta iconography.
Both images have been installed in independent niches comprising two sections of the Prabhavali consisting of two parallel flat columns rising from a lotus pedestal and rounding on the top turn into a shallow arch. The one-third of the height towards the bottom has been separated by a beautifully moulded lintel slab dividing the Prabhavali into two sections, the lower one of which the seated image of Lord Ganesha enshrines. Its upper and larger part his standing image enshrines. Along the pillars and the arch on the top there rise vines with curling branches, stylized plantain leaves and large buds, all beautifully designed and created. The bottom image is seated on a pedestal while the standing image in the upper niche is poised on a full blooming elaborate lotus. On the right side of this standing image is parked the deity’s mount mouse while on his left is a devotee with a basket of laddus on his head. Relatively larger, his trunk is directed to the laddu that Lord Ganesha is carrying in his lower left hand.
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.