Place of Origin: India | Karnataka state
Style or Ware: Hoysala
Credit Line: Gift of the de Young Museum Society Auxiliary
Label: Crowned and bejeweled, as befitting his status as one of India's most beloved gods, Ganesha is represented grasping objects frequently associated with him: a battle axe, a lotus (now broken), a bowl of favorite sweets, and a broken tusk. Ganesha's elephant head, like his multiple arms, is a mark of his divine nature, and various myths explain how he acquired it. The most popular recounts how the goddess Parvati desired a child and single-handedly created Ganesha. Her husband, the god Shiva, mistakenly beheaded Ganesha but restored him to life by replacing his human head with that of an elephant. Elephants carry complex symbolism in the Indian cultural world. Because they are thought to resemble rain clouds in color and shape, they have long been associated with fertility and prosperity.