China, Xinjiang, Pialma (75 km west of Khotan)

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 251

This architectural fragment is one of a small group of early Ganesha images found around the important Silk Road trading center of Khotan in Central Asia. Meeting the worshipper’s gaze with expressive human eyes, it is clear this is no mere elephant, but a god.

The presence of a Hindu deity in a mostly Buddhist kingdom reveals how the religion spread along trade routes. For travelers traversing the long and arduous Silk Road, how appropriate to pay homage to this remover of obstacles and bringer of wealth and abundance.

Ganesha, Stucco with traces of color, China, Xinjiang, Pialma (75 km west of Khotan)

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