Most Hindus have on their home altars an image of Ganesh (also Ganesha), the god who overcomes obstacles and brings good fortune, and during puja, pray to him before worshiping other deities. Ganesh traditionally is portrayed seated on his vahana, the mouse, with the head of an elephant, with one whole and one broken tusk a pot belly and four arms, symbolizing the four Vedas (ancient sacred books) of Hinduism, the four arms of Hinduism and the four stages of life. Usually, his four arms hold such objects in his raised arms as a noose, goad, axe, mace or conch shell, and in his lower arms a bowl of sweets (laddo) and a broken tusk. His trunk leans towards his left to eat the sweets which represents earthly prosperity and well-being and indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman, or soul. He holds his broken tusk in his right lower hand; the two tusks, one whole and the other broken reflect the existence of perfection and imperfection in the physical world. He holds the broken tusk like a pen symbolizing the sacrifice he made to write the Mahabharata. It is said that giving or receiving a Ganesh for any new undertaking assures a smooth transition and success to one’s new undertaking. Ganesh’s images are ubiquitous: in paintings, as statues, jewelry, textile design, on architectural structures and other forms.

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  • Vintage Terracotta Ganesh on his Mouse, India


    This vintage terracotta statue depicts Ganesh with his elephant head and pot belly on a very large representation of his vehicle, (vahana) the mouse who both wear a beaded rosary necklace. His trunk leans to his left to eat the sweets (laddo) which he holds in one hand, which represents earthly prosperity and well-being and his raised arms hold a weapon that symbolizes how we should not fear any obstacles, and conch shell that symbolizes victory and fulfillment. His body is framed by a pointed aurole with raised orbs reflected is divine status and energy.  The piece is extremely colorful with red, green and gold pigmentation throughout. It probably was created in a rural part of India, as its style is rustic and earthy, although entirely charming. This and other images of Hindu deities were placed in home shrines where they were venerated daily during a puja ceremony.


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