This stele would once have filled a temple niche. It shows an eight-armed Ganesha, the Hindu god of wisdom and intellect, dancing on a lotus base beneath which can be seen his vehicle, the rat. The prevalence of dance imagery in sculptures of human as well as divine figures carved into the walls and pillars of Indian temples attests to the importance of dance in Hindu worship. The joyous and light-hearted nature of Ganesha’s dance is also celebrated in Indian poetry.
The sculpture was created during the Indian medieval period (700-1200), a time in which temple architecture and sculpture were intimately connected. Although often found in temples dedicated to his father Shiva, Ganesha’s popularity is such that images of the god also appear in a range of other non-Shaivite monuments.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label