Ganesha Sculpture in Corridor
Ganesha sculpture on loan from the Ashmolean Museum

Published on:

7 October 2019


Our members have been given a unique opportunity to observe a piece of art history, which depicts the god Ganesh sitting on a lotus throne.

A son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha is one of the most popular Hindu deities. Known as the Lord of New Beginnings, offerings are often presented to him at the start of any new venture or journey. He is also the god of wisdom and learning, the bestower of wealth and the remover of obstacles. The sculpture which originates from West India and dates from the nineteenth century and is made out of marble. It was bequeathed by Charles Kearly, through the Art Fund in 1989 to the Ashmolean.

Wolfson Research Fellow Matthew Landrus from the History of Art Department, commented: "This marble sculpture of the elephant-headed god represents him sitting on a lotus throne, holding a demon-slaying axe, an elephant goad (spear with a hook), prayer beads, and he likely held a broken tusk or bowl of sweets in his lower left hand. Whereas his right tusk is missing from the damaged sculpture, his left tusk should look broken, because it is believed that he removed part of it to use as a pen whilst transcribing the Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata. Thus, he is also worshipped by students as a god of learning, writing, and wisdom."

You can view the statue at the entrance to the Buttery, opposite the library display cases.