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Dancing Ganesha
Dancing Ganesha, c. 750
Height: 50 inches (127 cm)
Purchased with the New Members Fund, 1971
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Let's Look

  • What is the first thing you notice about this statue?
  • How many arms do you see on Ganesha? What is he holding?
  • Is Ganesha standing still? Find three bends that make an "S" shape in Ganesha's body. How is he moving?

Let's Look Again

  • Who is providing the music for Ganesha's dancing? What is Ganesha wearing that makes musical sounds? Look for another small figure in a similar pose as Ganesha.
  • Do you think Ganesha's body is that of a young child or an older person? Why?
  • Look at the decoration on the base underneath Ganesha. What could this design represent?
  • Why do you think Ganesha has an elephant's head and a human body?


Connect and Compare

  • We can see a small musician playing a tabla (pair of hand drums) in the lower-left part of the sculpture. Listen to some Indian music. What instruments are played? Make a drawing or painting of Ganesha that includes them.
  • Collect and compare images of Ganesha from museums, libraries, and the Web—both old and new. List the things that Ganesha holds in his hands and what they symbolize. Notice his different postures. Are members of Ganesha's family also shown?

Related Art Projects

  • Ganesha's head and trunk represent "Om," the cosmic sound from which the world was created. Om is a sacred syllable used as a mantra (a silent or spoken prayer) in Hinduism and Buddhism. Written in Sanskrit (SAN-skrit), "Om" looks like an elephant’s head and trunk (see right). Practice writing it, then make a stamp of it by carving styrofoam or a potato, to decorate a story or picture about Ganesha.

  • Model a small clay figure of Ganesha. Use sculpture wire, craft sticks, or toothpicks as an armature (a framework to support the clay). Will your figure be sitting or dancing? What will Ganesha hold in his many hands? Where will he live?


For more information, please contact The Division of Education by phone at (215) 684-7580, by fax at (215) 236-4063, or by e-mail at .

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