Ganesh or Ganesha


Ganesh or Ganesha
   ganesh wood sculpture detail
  A large standing figure of Ganesh carved in wood (detail)

Ganesh surfaced as a distinct deity around the 4th or 5th century C.E. during the Gupta period, and was likely inspired by vedic and pre-vedic mythology. He has been depicted with the head of an elephant and the body of a human since ancient times, and there are many narrative explanations for this. One is that he was simply born this way, another tells that as baby his head was incinerated by the evil eye of the Goddess Shani, and when Vishnu discovered this, he took piety and replaced the baby’s head with an elephant’s.

ganesh standing wooden sculpture   
A large tantric standing figure of Ganesh

Of all Hindu deities, Ganesh, is one of the most revered. Ganesh has many roles – God of wisdom, commerce, and all the creative arts and sciences – but perhaps the most important is as “the remover of obstacles.” To worship Ganesh is to harness the energy of communication and opportunity, a world where anything and everything is possible. Ganesh is also a highly protective deity, for just as easily as Ganesh can remove obstacles from someone’s path, Ganesh can place obstacles there as well. In this regard, Ganesh protects individuals by blocking harm, illness and misfortune.

In Hinduism, each deity has a “mount,” an animal or demi-god associated with the deity and attributed with special powers. The mount of Ganesh is a rat or mouse. Conceptually, the mouse can go into cracks and crevices, places where humans cannot go, to remove obstacles. The worship of Ganesh almost always preceded the propitiation of any other deity as it was believed only Ganesh could open the door to successful worship. He is one of the few deities that is venerated by not only Hindus, but also Jains, Buddhists, and Vedics. Ganesh’s affinity for sweets, candy, and sugarcane are representative of his accessibility to the common man, and his general good nature.

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Glen Joffe

This document has been reviewed and edited by Glen Joffe. Glen Joffe is the owner of PRIMITIVE located in Chicago IL. Background: For more than 20 years, Glen Joffe has brought “the best of the world” to PRIMITIVE, his retail gallery in Chicago. Originally known as Primitive Art Works when it opened in 1989, the company owned by Glen Joffe and his wife Claudia Ashleigh-Morgan specialized in authentic African art. Today, PRIMITIVE sells collectibles in six broad categories - furniture, artifacts, textiles, jewelry, fashion, and artwork - hand-picked by the owners and staff in numerous foreign countries such as China, India, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, Indonesia, and many African countries

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