European Private Collection, acquired in 1996
V. Dehejia, The Sensuous and the Sacred: Chola Bronzes from South India, American Federation of Arts exhibition catalogue, 2002, no. 23
Chola rulers were active patrons, and during their reign poetry, drama, music, and dance flourished. They also constructed enormous stone temple complexes decorated inside and out with painted and sculpted representations of the Hindu gods. However, some of the best-known artistic remains from this period are the bronzes that were commissioned for these temples. Admired for the sensuous depiction of the figure and the detailed treatment of their clothing and jewelry, Chola-period bronzes were created using the lost wax technique. Although bronze casting has a long history in south India, a much larger and a much greater number of bronze sculptures were cast during the Chola period.
For the most part, these bronzes were made to be carried outside of the temples, and Ganesha usually leads the processional images in all religious festivals because he is the deity of auspicious beginnings. They were often lustrated with unguents, and some images were dressed.
In this charming sculpture, Ganesha stands in bulging contrapposto atop a circular lotus supported by a molded square base with lugs on the sides and vertical pegs. He is wearing beaded anklets, a short dhoti with sashes hanging on either side of his plump thighs, meditation cord meandering across his chest, ribbed bracelets, heavy jeweled collar, and a richly-ornamented conical karandamukuta. His four hands hold one of his broken broken tusks, an elephant goad, a sweetmeat, and a noose. The animation of this pachyderm sculpture is enlivened by his standing on two feet, curled trunk, and flappy ears. It is no wonder that this deity of one of the most beloved in India.