The simhavahana Ganesha is a rare iconography of Lord Ganesha. ‘Simhavahana’ is a portmanteau of ‘simha’, which means lion, and ‘vahana’, which means mount. It is indicative of His parentage: of the great simhavahini Durga, who is His mother. In the painting that you see on this page, Ganesha is possessed of eight arms (ashtabhujadhari) and seated on the back of a steadily poised lion.
Unlike the iconography of Durga, there is neither rajas nor wrath in the twin demeanours of the deity and His lion. From the gentle stance of lalitasana to the steady gaze of those wise eyes, matched by the lion’s body language and facial expression, the Lord’s chhavi (image) is brimming over with sattvaguna (the stability attribute).
The crown and adornments of Ganesha are made of pure gold embellishments. The same holds true for the bracelets around the lion’s four paws. The temple entrance-like structure running along all four edges of the canvas, the unassuming solid-coloured background, and the dark wood frame complete the Tanjore visual idiom.
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