Skip to main content

Main Building

Dancing Ganesha

c. 750
Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Elephant-headed and potbellied, Ganesha is one of the most beloved of Hindu deities. He is the remover of obstacles and lord of auspicious beginnings, worshiped at the start of any undertaking, including marriage, travel, or the new year. Ganesha also leads the ganas, the hosts of the great god Shiva, and is sometimes considered Shiva’s son. Multiple myths recount his origins—one tells that Shiva, in a rage, decapitates Ganesha and then revives him by attaching the head of an elephant.

The four-armed Ganesha carries an axe and a radish in two hands and a ball-shaped sweet in his trunk. A snake, one of the attributes of Shiva, wraps around him. Ganesha‘s body sways in a triple bend to the rhythm beaten out by the spirit drummer below him on the left, and his dance reverberates throughout the universe.

Images of Ganesha are most frequently placed either above a doorway or in a niche on the exterior south wall of a temple, where the ritual clockwise walk around the building begins. This sculpture probably came from an exterior niche.

Object Details

We are always open to learning more about our collections and updating the website. Does this record contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? Contact us here.

Please note that this particular artwork might not be on view when you visit. Don’t worry—we have plenty of exhibitions for you to explore.

Main Building