Indian, gilded bronze, 10.8 cm high, 16th century, Orissa, eastern India.
One of the most popular Hindu deities, the benign, elephant-headed Ganesha is a god of wisdom, bestower of wealth and remover of obstacles, who is invoked at the beginning of any enterprise. A son of Shiva and Parvati, he is generally shown as chubby and pot-bellied. In this fine example of Orissan bronze-casting, Ganesha sits with his feet pressed together on a lotus-petalled throne, while the rat or mouse (his associated animal or vehicle) looks up at him from the rim of the base. He holds in his upper hands an ankus (elephant goad) and a serpent (associated with his father Shiva). The sacred thread around his body is likewise a snake. His lower hands hold the broken end of his tusk and a bowl of small sweet cakes, which he is sampling appreciatively with his trunk. [Barrett Gift, EA1980.64].