Figure of Ganesha



Figure of Ganesha


8th-9th Century AD




Red sandstone
Maximum: 21 1/2 x 15 3/4 x 12 in. (54.6 x 40 x 30.5 cm)

Object Number



Known as the "Remover of Obstacles" and the "Lord of New Beginnings", the elephant-headed god Ganesha is among the most beloved of Hindu deities. His image can be found at the entrance of temples devoted to Shiva, Vishnu, and Devi, to clear the path towards successful worship, as well as in Hindu domestic shrines and businesses. He is worshipped at the beginning of journeys and the start of new endeavors.

The goddess Parvati created Ganesha to keep her company while her husband, Shiva, was away for long periods of time meditating in the mountains. There are several variations to this story of creation-whether Ganesha was formed from a paste of ground lentils and turmeric used as a body scrub, the dry skin Parvati rubbed off her body after her bath, from sandalpaste with which she anointed her own body, or a combination of these. One day Parvati instructed Ganesha to guard the door so that she could bathe in privacy. Shiva returned home to find an unfamiliar child barring his entry into his own home. In anger, he sliced off the boy's head with his trident, flinging it far away. Parvati was devastated and pleaded for Shiva to restore life to their son. Shiva sent his attendants (ganas) into the jungle to bring him the head of the first living being they came upon, which happened to be that of an elephant. Shiva attached the elephant head to the boy, whom he now accepted as his son.

Here Ganesha sits on a lotus throne, his head framed by a lotus nimbus. Like his father, Shiva, he has a third or "inner" eye on his forehead and wears an upativa (sacred cord) around his ample waist. In his four hands he holds a mala (prayer beads) used in meditation, an axe for removing obstacles in the lives of his devotees; one of his tusks, which he broke off himself in order to transcribe the Hindu epic Mahabharata, believing that a regular pen was unsuitable for such a sacred task; and a bowl of laddus, a popular Indian treat even today. Renowned for his immense appetite, Ganesha's trunk reaches into the bowl of sweets.

Credit Line

Gift of Joanne and Charles Ackerman and Merry and Chris Carlos


MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, February 22 - August 26, 2013|
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, September 25, 2013 - Present
MCCM Newsletter, Fall/Winter 2012.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2012.
This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.

On View



“Figure of Ganesha,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed September 18, 2020,

Social Bookmarking


Copy the code below into your web page