Artist unknown (East Indian, 18th century),
, 18th century
alabaster, 17 ½ x9 ½ x 5 ½ in.; 44.5 x 24.1 x 14 cm
Gift of James E. Shugart and Roger M. Hughes, 2000.19
Ganesha is the son of Siva and his wife Parvati. Though he is simplistically described as the Hindu elephant-headed deity of plenty and good fortune, there are profound cosmological and arcane aspects to his divine nature. He is called Vighneshvara — the "Remover of Obstacles" — Deity of Wisdom, and Ganapati, Commander of Siva's host, among numerous other epithets. The rotund human figure with elephant head wears a round hat, and, as is typical, has a proper left broken tusk (earning him the epithet Ekadanta, or One Tusk). He is seated on an inverted lotus blossom in the posture of royal ease. At his feet is a rat, the animal on whom he normally rides. Ganesha has four arms. In his lower right hand are prayer beads, in his upper right, a stylized radish; in his lower left hand is a modaka, or sweet, of which he is very fond, and in his upper left hand he holds a demon-slaying ax, or parasu.