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Bronze image of Ganesha on his rat vehicle

  • Moor's 'Hindu Pantheon' (Frontispiece)

    Moor's 'Hindu Pantheon' (Frontispiece)

 

Height: 8.000 inches

Collected by Major Edward Moor
Gift of Mrs A.G. Moor

Asia OA 1940.7-16.1

Enlightenment: Religion

    Bronze image of Ganesha on his rat vehicle

    Southern Deccan, India, 18th century AD

    The elephant-headed Ganesha is renowned throughout India as the Lord of Beginnings, and both the placer and the remover of obstacles. It is for this reason that he is worshipped before any new venture is begun, when his benediction is essential. The animal on which Ganesha rides, his vahana (vehicle), is a rat, or bandicoot.

    This sculpture is part of the large collection of small bronzes which were acquired by the early scholar of Indian religion, Edward Moor. These he used, along with his vast holding of Indian paintings, in his study of the society he encountered in western India in the late eighteenth century.

    In 1810, back in London, Moor published his influential work, The Hindu Pantheon, the first attempt to present the variety of Indian religious life before an English audience. Moor used his collections, both bronzes and paintings, to illustrate the points he made in his text; a print of this sculpture appears, appropriately, as the Frontispiece (illustrated here).

    Moor's collections were given to the British Museum by his descendants in 1940. They remain a testament to the eighteenth-century determination to place all human experience within a framework of taxonomy and categorisation.

    P.B. Courtright, Ganesa: lord of obstacles, lor (Oxford, 1985)

    P. Mitter, Much Maligned Monsters: A hist (University of Chicago Press, 1992)

    R.L. Brown, Ganesha: Studies of an Asian G (Albany, 1991)

    P. Pal, Ganesh the benevolent (Bombay, Marg, 1995)

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    On display: Enlightenment: Religion

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    Illustrated introduction to Hinduism, £9.99

    Illustrated introduction to Hinduism, £9.99