Ganesha is, perhaps, the most beloved and widely worshipped of the thousands of Hindu deities. His name, which means “lord of beginnings and remover of obstacles,” is associated with writing and science, but especially as the protector of new enterprises. With his modified elephant head—his eyes adjusted forward and framed by eyebrows, giving him a more human appearance—and his childlike body, Ganesha is both comical and appealing. The artist, most likely an artisan employed in an imperial Chola workshop, used the subtle shift of weight to one foot and the delicate modeling of the chubby fingers to suggest a human character within the deity.
Indian, Tamil Nadu, Chola Dynasty
Late 12th–early 13th century
16 x 9 1/2 in. (40.6 x 24.1 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 75.100