Loaned Artwork

Oil on Canvas 

Collection of Chhaya Devi Shrestha

About the Art

The origins of Gaṇeśa worship are unclear, and various scholars have proposed different theories about this deity’s origins. According to some scholars, Gaṇeśa was originally a nature deity worshiped by ancient Indian tribes. Others believe that Gaṇeśa evolved from a mix of deities and that his origins are more complicated. Gaṇeśa was most likely worshiped for a long time before he was mentioned in the Hindu scriptures. Gaṇeśa’s popularity grew over time, and he eventually became one of Hinduism’s most revered deities. 

It is common practice today to honor Gaṇeśa as a patron of the arts an embodiment of good fortune and safety and a remover of obstacles. Since believers often invoke him at the outset of rituals and ceremonies, he is often seen as a bringer of good fortune. The deity’s followers chant the phrase “Śrī Gaṇeśāye Namah” before beginning anything auspicious. The phrase is derived from the Indo-Aryan language used in South and Southeast Asia. The word “Śrī” is derived from Sanskrit, which means “radiance,” “splendor,” or “prosperity.”  The Sanskrit word “Namah,” means “name” or “salutation,”. These three terms are combined in the phrase “Śrī Gaṇeśaye Namah” to form a greeting or salutation to Gaṇeśa.

Gaṇeśa is known by various names such as Vigneśvara, the lord who removes obstacles, Gajānan, the elephant-headed god, Gaṇapati, the lord of Gaṇa (people), and Vināyaka, the lord of all. The artistic depiction of the deity traveled to various regions of Asia through cultural exchange. The artworks were influenced by each other. The earliest known depiction of Gaṇeśa is found on a seal discovered at the Indus Valley Civilization site of Mohenjo-Daro, which dates back to around 2500 BCE. The artwork evolved from various genres and dynasties in India like the Gupta, Pala, and Chola dynasties. When art reached Nepal, the artists there created their own stylization, methods, medium as well and ways to venerate the deity. In the Newar tradition of Buddhism practiced in Nepal, there are depictions of various iconographic forms of Gaṇeśa. These forms are used in ritualistic practices. Gaṇeśa is used as the symbol for the initial purification state.  

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