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Dancing Ganesha, 11th century

India: Madhya Pradesh
41-1/2 x 23-1/2 x 11 in. (105.4 x 59.7 x 27.9 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Vineet and Floretta Kapoor
© Norton Simon Museum

On view

Like his father, Shiva—who performs the cosmic dance of destruction in his manifestation as King of Dance, or Nataraja—the great elephant-headed god Ganesha is often depicted dancing exuberantly. As the remover of obstacles and the god of auspicious beginnings, Ganesha is invoked before every undertaking and revered by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains alike. This eight-armed Ganesha dances on a double lotus, a symbol of his divine status, and he holds several of his standard accoutrements, including a snake, an axe and one of his tusks. His trunk, now broken at the tip, would have been dipping into a bowl of sweets held in the missing left hand. The cream spots are created by natural mottling of the red sandstone.

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