Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Four-Armed Ganesha Dancing

16th–17th century
Nepal (Kathmandu Valley)
Gilt-copper alloy
H. 6 7/16 (16.4 cm); W. 4 7/16 in. (11.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Wesley Halpert, 1992
Accession Number:
Not on view
This plaque depicts the popular Hindu god Ganesha. Ganesha is popularly thought of as the son of Shiva and Parvati and is worshipped for his ability to remove obstacles. He is also the guardian of doorways and the lord of beginnings and his name is invoked before any new undertaking is commenced. Although there are a number of stories describing how he received his elephant head, the most common recounts that Parvati, while Shiva was away, created Ganesha from the dry skin she sloughed off in a bath. She sent him to guard the door to her bath. When Shiva returned home he did not realize that it was his wife's son guarding the door. Denied entry to her chamber, he lopped off Ganesha's head when the two came to blows. When he discovered the truth, Shiva ordered that the head of the first sentient being that came into view be given to Ganesha. Thus, he received the head of an elephant. Ganesha was just a child at the time and he is usually depicted with a chubby body and holding a bowl of sweetmeats, shown here in his lower left hand. His other three hold a rosary, an ax, and a broken tusk. The last object alludes to a well-known tale in which the portly Ganesha hurled a tusk at the moon in embarrassment after the moon saw his stomach burst from overeating.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art of the Himalayas," December 15, 2010–December 4, 2011.

Related Objects


Date: 10th–11th century Medium: Gilt-copper alloy Accession: 1986.501.8 On view in:Gallery 252

Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Transcendent Wisdom, in an Awesome Aspect

Date: 10th century Medium: Gilt-copper alloy with color and gold paint Accession: 1982.220.13 On view in:Gallery 252

The Bodhisattva Padmapani Lokeshvara

Date: 11th century Medium: Copper alloy with gilding and semiprecious stones Accession: 1982.220.2 On view in:Gallery 252

Shiva Seated with Parvati

Date: 11th century Medium: Copper alloy Accession: 1987.218.1 On view in:Gallery 252

Vairochana, the Supreme Transcendent Buddha

Date: 11th–12th century Medium: Gilt-copper alloy with gold paint and blue pigment Accession: 1991.133 On view in:Gallery 252