An image of Figure of Ganesha

Unknown Artist

Figure of Ganesha

Other titles:
Further information

The most common account of how Ganesha obtained his elephant head relates to the occasion when Ganesha, then a handsome youth created by Parvati from the slough of her skin, was decapitated by Shiva's hordes ('gana') when Ganesha, on Parvati's instructions, barred Shiva from entering her apartment. To appease Parvati's anger at the loss of her son, Shiva sent out his followers with instructions to sever the head of the first living creature they encountered which was an elephant. Ganesha has become one of the most popular of the Hindu gods. In this image, his corpulent body sits on a double lotus throne with the soles of his human feet touching. This pose, unknown in India, is unique to Java and Cambodia. The snake coiled around the sacred thread across his chest, the elaborate headdress with a crescent moon and a skull, as well as the vertical third eye in the centre of his forehead, all indicate his close association with the Hindu god Shiva. Of his four arms, his front right hand holds his broken tusk; his front left hand (now missing) would have held a bowl full of rice, sweets or jewels, while his two posterior hands would have held an axe and a fly whisk.

Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg. 301.

Place of origin
Central Java, Java, Indonesia
10th century
volcanic grey buff stone
67.0 x 40.0 x 35.0 cm
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Anonymous gift 1985
Accession number