Ganesa dancing

Unknown10th century AD - 10th century AD

Museo d'Arte Orientale

Museo d'Arte Orientale
Torino, Italy

The stele sculpture portraying the bulky figure of Gaṇeśa is lightened not only by the dance movement evoked by the deity, but also by the interesting play of solid and void created by the artist: the stele, which is full in the upper portion, becomes empty in the lower part, confined only by the large borders that frame the sculpture. The image of the dancing Gaṇeśa, defined by stubby lower legs bent to one side in a dance step, eight arms arranged in a fan, a moderately abundant belly and a large elephant’s head, seems almost to want to free itself of the burden of the stone. The lower left arm follows the outline of the protruding side, joining the movement of dance; the index finger and thumb are joined in a circle, with the tip of the thumb turned outwards unnaturally. The arm above this, kept at chest height, holds the customary bowl filled with laḍḍu, whereas the other two arms on the left side, raised above the head, are incomplete, having broken off at the forearms. The lower right arm is held down alongside the body, with the hand open and parallel to the ground, as if in a gesture of protection towards the devotee performing the añjalimudrā gesture at his feet. In the hand above this, Gaṇeśa holds a small circular akṣamālā between the index and ring fingers. Although the next limb is broken, the gesture performed by the hand can be interpreted from the presence of the paraśu blade seen near the right ear - the weapon would have had a long handle. The hand of the last arm, stretching upwards, is enveloped by the head of the cobra, which the deity holds stretched above his head like a rope (pāśa): the snake’s tail was probably held by the opposite arm on the left side. Gaṇeśa is wearing various items of jewellery that are simple and finely carved: a wide band necklace, bracelets on his wrists, elbows and biceps, anklets and a fine diadem on his head. The nāga yajñopavīta worn by the god is more defined, with the head of the cobra rising up on the left side of the abdomen, towards the navel. Behind the elephant head, with the edges of the ears curling in a soft volume, a large radial halo with a smooth central portion can be clearly seen. The large figure of Gaṇeśa is framed on all four sides by two small figures at his feet - a devotee on the left and a flute-player on the right, almost protected by the gestures of the two lower hands - and a pair of gandharva and apsarā in the top corners: the four semi-divine figures are portrayed in flight as they offer garlands to the deity.


  • Title: Ganesa dancing
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: 10th century AD - 10th century AD
  • Physical Dimensions: w40 x h75 x d16 cm
  • Origins: India, Madhya Pradesh
  • Objects: Scultura
  • Provenance: Comune di Torino
  • Type: Sculptures
  • Rights: All Rights Reserved - MAO Museo d'Arte Orientale, Turin
  • Medium: Carved sandstone beige

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