Dancing Ganesha

India, Madhya Pradesh

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 251

This ten-armed dancing Ganesha holds his broken tusk, weapons, a pot with sweetmeats, and many other attributes that have broken away. Two snakes—one stretched above his head, the other drawn across his chest as a sacred thread—are attributes that connect him to his father, Shiva. Unlike smaller portable images cast in metal, this large, sandstone example would have been placed in a temple niche to remove obstacles standing between the worshipper and the divine.

As leader of the ganas (nature deities), Ganesha stands in a pose that emphasizes his playful and rambunctious nature—in contrast to his father Shiva’s cosmic dance of creation and destruction. As remover of obstacles, Ganesha clears a path to access Shiva while also bestowing wealth and prosperity.

Dancing Ganesha, Red sandstone, India, Madhya Pradesh

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