c. 1890

Watercolor, graphite, and ink on paper

Painting only: 45.3 x 27.5 cm (17 13/16 x 10 13/16 in.)

Gift of William E. Ward in memory of his wife, Evelyn Svec Ward 2003.166



Ganesh, seated here in these two images on his vehicle, the mouse, is the ever-popular elephant-headed deity who is worshipped as the mischievous Lord of Beginnings and Remover of Obstacles. Hindus worship him before they begin journeys, at the start of the day, and at the beginning of any auspicious occasion. Ganesh is the son of Shiva and Parvati, Shiva’s wife, and is fashioned from the dirt of her body. At his mother’s request, Ganesh guarded her as she bathed, only to be confronted by Shiva, Parvati’s husband, who was refused entry. Enraged (and not knowing that Ganesh was his son), Shiva beheaded him and entered. Parvati demanded that Ganesh be restored. To appease his wife, Shiva sent his attendants to return with the head of the first creature they encountered. They returned with the head of an elephant. The image on the wall is unfinished, revealing the technique of painting in stages employed by Kalighat artisans.

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