This board was designed to hold a ceremonial dagger, revered for its power to bring about fortuitous events, bestow strength and happiness, and to smite enemies. It shows the elephant-headed Hindu deity Ganesha, crowned and clad in royal Javanese costume. Images of Ganesha were created in central Java as early as the 8th century and continue to be prominent in Bali, where Hinduism thrives. Here, however, Ganesha holds the double-bladed sword of Ali, nephew and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label