South Indian / Ganesha / Chola period, 11th centurySouth Indian
Chola period, 11th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Dates/Places: South Indian
Creator Active Place: South Indian
Creator Name-CRT: South Indian
Title: Ganesha
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1000
Creation End Date: 1099
Creation Date: Chola period, 11th century
Creation Place: India, Tamil Nadu
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Copper alloy
Dimensions: H. 21 1/4 in. (54 cm); W. 10 3/4 in. (27.3 cm) at base
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.026
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: The bronze sculptures of Hindu gods and Buddhist deities cast during the Chola period (880-1279) are among the most renowned sculptures in world art. The Cholas came to power in the late 9th century, and until the late 13th century ruled a large part of south India from their homeland near Thanjavur on the southeastern coast, maintaining diplomatic ties with countries as distant as China and Indonesia. Chola rulers were active patrons of the arts, and during their rule, literature, dance, and the other performing arts flourished. They also constructed enormous temple complexes decorated with stone representations of the Hindu gods.

Admired for the sensuous depiction of the figure and the detailed treatment of their clothing and jewelry, Chola-period bronzes were created using the lost wax technique, commonly known by its French name, cire perdue. Because each sculpture made in this fashion requires a separate wax model, each is unique, but because they are religious icons, Chola-period sculptures also conform to well-established iconographic conventions.

Worshipped as the god of good luck and remover of obstacles, Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati, is one of the most popular gods in the Hindu pantheon. The rotund body and short legs of this 11th-century sculpture of Ganesha typifies representations of the deity. Ganesha's elephant head is the result of a quarrel between Shiva and Parvati. Angered by Ganesha's refusal--at Parvati's behest--to let him see his wife while she was bathing, Shiva cut off Ganesha's head, and Parvati was devastated with grief. In order to soothe her, Shiva replaced the head with that of the first creature he saw, which happened to be an elephant.

Ganesha holds a broken tusk in his front right hand; in addition, he holds a mace and a lasso, which are symbolic respectively of his position as god of war and his ability to advantageously ensnare a devotee.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 16.
Related Document Description: Tarapor, Mahrukh. 'A Note on Chola Bronzes.' Apollo (November 1983), p. 413.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.026
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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