Tuesday, February 26

Photo Essay: The magical collection of Ganesh

Ganesh is one of my favourite Gods, for many reasons, such as his knowledge, his writing ability (he should be the God of bloggers). But this essay is not about him per se, but about the collection of statues which my mother has put together. There are more than 200 statues of various types, but in the interests of time and not to be boring the pants off of people, I have selected the top 100 which I liked. Those are in the full slide show (link at the bottom), and then I have further selected some which "spoke" to me.

Ma got them from all over the country and some she sculpted herself. What amazed me was the sheer diversity of how people see Ganesh and then represent his divinity using clay or any other materials.


On the left is Bal Ganesh, baby Ganesh, crawling on the floor. It is a tiny statue, hardly 2 inches tall and 3 inches wide. Very cute statue from the Bastar District in India.  On the right is a statue showing Ganesh playing the cymbals.

On the left is a statue of Ganesh from Calcutta wearing a dhoti, proper Bhadralok, a typical Bengali gentleman. In the middle, Ma made this out of twine and beads and on the right, Ma made this out of stones, pebbles and glue.
On the left, is a statue carved out of a Bamboo plant, very nice carving. The one in the middle is made out of gram flour. Can you imagine? It's Bengali again. And the one on the right is a modern art Ganesh, made out of polished marble.
A tribal Ganesh is on the left, made out of brass. Ma picked this up during one of her trips out into the jungles of Madhya Pradesh, while she was researching for one of her books. And then you have a rather startled looking colourful Ganesh in the middle. I am not surprised, I would be startled as well if I was painted in those colours! Then you have a rather corpulent fired clay Ganesh on the right. Again tribal (Originally from Orissa). 
The orangish translucent Ganesh on the left is made of some kind of plastic material, it was gifted to Ma. On the right, you can see a Ganesh perched on the dashboard of a car. He is obviously there as driving on Indian roads requires divine assistance and protection. But what is worrying is that he is facing the driver and not the road!
The statue on the left bears a striking resemblance to Dumbo (or perhaps a gremlin?) but frankly, it is one of the few statues with an anatomical verisimilitude about the size of the ears. Most don't even have ears or if they do, they are more like afterthoughts, like the lacquer statue in the middle. And the statue on the right is made out of some kind of amazing stone. It almost glows from the inside and has tiny pinpricks of light. I was reminded of the sentence from 2010, OMG, it is full of stars when I took the photo of the tiny statue on my jeans clad thigh. 
Three transparent and translucent statues, all made out of glass, two clear and one blue. The one on the right is a masterpiece, it is obviously not blown but they have made parts and then stuck them together to make up this statue. Can you imagine the workmanship and the amazing attention to detail?
On the left is a Sandalwood Ganesh from Mysore, in the middle is a Ganesh from Bihar made out of a strange kind of very light stone, while the Ganesh on the right is made up of tile pieces which Ma stuck on the wall of the roof. God (Ganesh!), she does indeed have an artistic eye!

Then we have a statue of a clay Ganesh dressed up as an English Gentleman, briefcase, three piece suit, umbrella and a hat. Very cute! Then another tribal Ganesh, which Ma found while she was filming somewhere in the depths near Gwalior. Apparently the tribe which makes this keeps women away from the entire process of statue making. And another statue which she made herself out of pebbles.      
This was made out of orange wax and the wick is on top, not sure if you can make it out.


The left hand side is a Ganesh which Ma made out of sea shells and some string/beads. Another pebbly Ganesh in the middle, while at the right end you can see a Pushnir Ceramic Ganesh.

When people talk about worshipping statues, I smile because when you look at all these representations of Ganesh, you do not see a statue, but rather different emotions and feelings of each individual different sculptor. Every different representation shows how the Divine is seen and discloses how there just are so many viewpoints, infinite number of dimensions. He means something different to different people. If one was indeed worshipping the statue itself, then over the past thousands of years, the representation would have been reduced down to only a few common images. I see those statues and I feel the love. Perhaps that is worship indeed.

Here is the full resolution slide show. Warning!!! There are 100 images in there so only see if you have few minutes to spare! :) May Ganesh bless you.

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