This wood statue, carved out of a piece of fine timber revealing minute details of figure and entire ambience that Prabhavali defines, and painted as elegantly and beautifully using lighter tints of various colours, mainly golden yellow, green, red and blue, represents the elephant god Lord Ganesha seated on a large lotus. The statue combines at least three of the thirty-two forms of his image as identified in early classical iconographic traditions enshrining different Ganesha related texts to include in particular the eighth century Mudgala Purana, the most authentic work on Ganesha. Besides illustrating various Ganesha-related myths and iconographic details of each form, the Mudgala Purana also explores the dimensional breadth of each of these forms, its meaning and the role it plays in human life, especially the aspect of life that it influences.
and powerful this statue synthesizes three significant aspects of his
image, namely, Ekadanta, Vijay Ganapati and Sankatahara Ganapati,
Ekadanta, relating to his one-tusked form, Vijay Ganapati, to his
all-conquering power, and Sankatahara Ganapati, to his ability to
redeem from a crisis.
Apart a number of myths narrating how his one tusk broke, such as one
relating to punishing the arrogant moon for its mischief by removing
it and missile-like hurling it on it, removing it for taking from the
great sage Vyasa uninterrupted dictation of the great epic
Mahabharata, or losing it while holding on it the blow of the
battle-axe that variously his father Lord Shiva, or the great Brahmin
warrior Parasurama inflicted on him, Ekadanta, his one-tusked form
highly venerated in devotional tradition, is primarily a manifestation
by appearance. A four-armed figure Ekadanta is pot bellied and carries
in normal right hand his broken tusk. Whatever the focus on
appearance, Ekadanta form has as strong symbolic thrust. Ekadanta
stands for optimum sacrifice, singleness of mind and unparalleled
resourcefulness. The pot-belly is believed to contain oceans of
knowledge and with his large penetrating trunk he is believed to
explore womb of the earth, unfathomable depth of oceans, and
inaccessible regions of the sky and bring from there hidden treasures
for his devotees.
The image of Lord Ganesha that the statue represents abounds in
exceptional beauty, great divine aura, gold-like lustre and great
energy and vigour, the attributes of all-conquering Vijay Ganapati.
The most accomplished Vijay Ganapati is the Lord of victory who
bestows success and every kind of bliss. In consideration of his wider
role the Vijay Ganapati images often assimilate other forms of Lord
Ganesha, mainly, Vakratunda, one with curved trunk, and Lambodara,
pot-bellied. Vakratunda is known for a firm hold, and Lambodara, for
stores of riches and knowledge, the aspects that Vijay Ganapati most
needs. In effect Vijay Ganapati is Vighnesha and is required to redeem
his devotees from every crisis and this aspect he inherits from the
elephant god’s Sankatahara Ganapati form. The lotus seat is the
essence of Sankatahara Ganapati iconography. Seated and thus covering
the lotus in full he is seen as pervading the entire cosmos and
guarding it against everything untoward. Obviously, the statue
assimilates three forms, though it is on his Vijay Ganapati form that
the iconography and anatomy of the image centre.
As in this image, all three forms that this image combines, Ekadanta,
Vijay Ganapati and Sankatahara Ganapati, are four-armed forms carrying
in two of them elephant goad and noose, in the third, some eatable, a
golden mango, laddu or a bowl of pudding, and in the fourth, Ekadanta
and Vijay Ganapati carry the broken tusk. Besides goad, noose and
broken tusk this image carries in the fourth a golden mango, and in
his trunk, a laddu. Corresponding to the body-colour of Vijay Ganapati
the statue has been painted in gold mixed with red imparting to it
extra lustre. Texts and traditions define his seating posture, with
right leg laid suspending earth-wards, and the left, horizontally in
semi-yogic posture, as ‘lalitasana’, a posture revealing great
aesthetic beauty and majesty. The image enshrines a Prabhavali
consisting of a stylized upwards rising flowering creeper supported on
two parallel columns terminating into a rounded apex. Besides leaves,
flower and fruit forms it also assimilates birds – parrots, and
monkeys, all conjointly symbolizing the cosmos that Lord Ganapati
pervades by his presence.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.
How to care for Wood Statues?
Wood is extensively used in sculpting especially in countries like China, Germany, and Japan. One feature that makes the wood extremely suitable for making statues and sculptures is that it is light and can take very fine detail. It is easier for artists to work with wood than with other materials such as metal or stone. Both hardwoods, as well as softwood, are used for making sculptures. Wood is mainly used for indoor sculptures because it is not as durable as stone. Changes in weather cause wooden sculptures to split or be attacked by insects or fungus. The principal woods for making sculptures and statues are cedar, pine, walnut, oak, and mahogany. The most common technique that sculptors use to make sculptures out of wood is carving with a chisel and a mallet. Since wooden statues are prone to damage, fire, and rot, they require proper care and maintenance.
It is extremely important to preserve and protect wooden sculptures with proper care. A little carelessness and negligence can lead to their decay, resulting in losing all their beauty and strength. Therefore, a regular clean-up of the sculptures is a must to prolong their age and to maintain their shine and luster.
Wood has been a preferred material for sculptures and statues
since ancient times. It is easy to work with than most metals and
stones and therefore requires less effort to shape it into any
desired shape or form. The texture of the wood gives an element of
realism to the sculpture. The selection of an appropriate wood
type is necessary for carving. Woods that are too resinous or
coniferous are not considered good for carving as their fiber is
very soft and thus lacks strength. On the other hand, wood such as
Mahogany, Oakwood, Walnut wood, Weet cherry wood, etc., are
preferred by sculptors because their fiber is harder.
A wood sculptor uses various tools such as a pointed chisel in one
hand and a mallet in another to bring the wood to the desired
measurement and to make intricate details on it. A carving knife
is used to cut and smooth the wood. Other tools such as the gouge,
V-tool, and coping saw also serve as important tools in wood
carving. Although the wood carving technique is not as complex and
tough as stone carving or metal sculpting, nonetheless, a wood
carver requires a high level of skills and expertise to create a
The process of wood carving begins with selecting a chunk of wood
that is required according to the type and shape of the statue to
be created by the sculptor. Both hardwoods and softwoods are used
for making artistic pieces, however, hardwoods are preferred more
than softer woods because of their durability and longevity. But
if heavy detailing is to be done on the statue, wood with fine
grain would be needed as it would be difficult to work with
Once the wood type is selected, the wood carver begins the
general shaping process using gouges of various sizes. A gouge
is a tool having a curved cutting edge which is useful in
removing large unwanted portions of wood easily without
splitting the wood. The sculptor always carves the wood across
the grain of the wood and not against it.
When a refined shape of the statue is obtained, it is time for
making details on the statue using different tools. This is
achieved by using tools such as a veiner to make and a V-tool to
create decorative and sharp cuts.
Once finer details have been added, the sculptor is ready to
smoothen the surface and give it a perfect finish. Tools such as
rasps and rifflers are used to get a smooth surface. The finer
polishing is obtained by rubbing the surface with sandpaper. If
a textured surface is required, this step is skipped. Finally,
to protect the statue from excessive dirt accumulation, the
sculptor applies natural oils such as walnut or linseed oil all
over it. This also brings a natural sheen to the statue.
Wood statues are lighter in weight and less expensive than metal
or stone pieces. Because wood is prone to fast decay by fungus and
algae, statues made out of this material are not preferred to be
kept outside. The rich tradition of wood carving in countries such
as Africa, Egypt, India, and Nepal has been followed for many
centuries. Indian craftsmen are specialized in this classic art
and continue to exhibit their extraordinary artistic skills.
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