From temple to home
celebrating Ganesha

27 February – 25 May 2014

The Asahi Shimbun Displays
Objects in focus

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Explore the iconography of a beautiful 13th-century sculpture of the elephant-headed god Ganesha and find out how he is celebrated across India.

The elephant-headed Ganesha is one of the most popular Hindu gods – the creator and remover of obstacles. The main stone sculpture in the display was carved from schist around 800 years ago and was originally positioned on the outside of a temple in the eastern state of Orissa (recently renamed Odisha). The display brings this sculpture together with other more recent depictions of Ganesha created for different purposes. Among these are the temporary statues created every year for the Ganeshchaturthi festival in Mumbai, which are placed in public or domestic shrines before being immersed in water at the end of the celebrations.

The display is curated by Manisha Nene of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) in Mumbai, who participated in the British Museum’s International Training Programme (ITP) in 2011. The ITP promotes the mutual sharing of knowledge, skills and experience as museum and heritage professionals from across the world are hosted by the British Museum and UK partner museums. As part of the ITP, Manisha prepared a proposal for a temporary exhibition about Ganesha, which the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, asked her to develop in collaboration with British Museum curators.

This display explores the imagery and symbolism associated with Ganesha, puts the worship of the god across South Asia in context, and retells some of the most popular stories surrounding him.

Schist stone figure of Ganesha. From Orissa, India, 13th century AD.

The making and worship of Ganesha statues in Maharashtra