The Ganesh-Panel: Multiplication of Auspiciousness

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Item Code: RT89
South Indian Temple Wood Carving
Height: 11.2 inch
Width: 36 inch
Depth: 2 inch
Weight: 4.83 kg
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An example of fine wood-carving, this panel represents five forms of Lord Ganesh carved in deep relief, obviously pursuing the doctrine of multiplication of image and thereby the multiplication of the divine aspect that the image manifests. Multiplication of the Ganapati image amounts to multiplication of auspiciousness that Lord Ganesh manifests. It is the same as the ‘Thousand Buddha’ concept in Buddhism or Lord Vishnu’s crore-image-concept in Vaishnavism. The basic idea is that the deity shall not move away from the sight even if the eye flickers and moves away from the deity.

All five forms of Lord Ganesh have been carved broadly with identical features of anatomy and iconography, and with the same set of attributes and similar posture barring a few deviations as the first figure from the right, and the last, are in standing posture while other three are seated, or the trunk-ends of the third and the fourth figures are ‘valampuri’, as the pose of the trunk turned to right is known in the classical tradition, while those of the other three are turned to left, a more usual posture known as edampuri. The standing images are in a semi-dance mode, though while the one on the extreme right has its left leg lifted in the posture of dance, that on the extreme left, its right leg.

Lotus-seats, the other three images are installed on, are exactly identical but the sitting postures of the images reveal a few variations. The image in the centre, with its right leg hung below on the foot of the pedestal, and the left, horizontally as in yogasana, has exact ‘lalitasana’ posture, while the image on its right is only partially in ‘lalitasana’. As in ‘lalitasana’, it has its right leg suspending below, but its left is laid over the seat like a bolster supporting on it one of its left arms. The sitting posture of the image on the left of the centre is a blend of both postures. Its left leg is laid horizontally on the seat as in yogasana, while the right, raised like a bolster supporting on it one of its right arms. All icons are four-armed, in Ekadanta form, pot-bellied and are endowed with ‘tri-netra’ – third eye. Broken tusk, goad and noose are the attributes that all images commonly carry. It is only in the fourth hand that the attributes change. The first, third and fourth seem to be carrying an object that looks like mango fruit while the hands of the second and the fifth images are held in ‘abhaya’.

The basic image form in this carving is Ekadanta manifestation of Lord Ganesh. Ekadanta Ganapati is usually a four-armed form of Ganesh carrying essentially his broken tusk in his normal right hand and is pot-bellied, as here in these images. Ekadanta is one of his main and initial eight classical forms enumerated in the Mudgala Purana, an early text devoted primarily to Ganesh. With these eight manifestations Lord Ganesh prevails over eight human weaknesses, namely, ‘moda’ – arrogance, ‘abhimana’ – pride, ‘matsarya’ – jealousy, ‘moha’ – infatuation, ‘lobha’ – greed, ‘krodha’ – anger, ‘kama’ – lust, and ‘mamata’ – possessiveness as also ego. In his Ekadanta form he prevails over ‘moda’, the arrogance that breeds non-acceptance of the world one is destined to live in and thus breeds disharmony. Ekadanta Ganapati vanquishes this arrogance and makes life harmonious.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.

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How to care for Wood Statues?

Wood is extensively used in sculpting especially in countries like China, Germany, and Japan. One feature that makes the wood extremely suitable for making statues and sculptures is that it is light and can take very fine detail. It is easier for artists to work with wood than with other materials such as metal or stone. Both hardwoods, as well as softwood, are used for making sculptures. Wood is mainly used for indoor sculptures because it is not as durable as stone. Changes in weather cause wooden sculptures to split or be attacked by insects or fungus. The principal woods for making sculptures and statues are cedar, pine, walnut, oak, and mahogany. The most common technique that sculptors use to make sculptures out of wood is carving with a chisel and a mallet. Since wooden statues are prone to damage, fire, and rot, they require proper care and maintenance.


  • Wood tends to expand and contract even after it has been processed, thus it is always recommended to keep the wooden sculptures in rooms with little humidity. Excess moisture can harm your masterpiece.


  • Periodical dusting of the finished piece is necessary to maintain its beauty as dust accumulation on the surface takes away the shine of the sculpture. You can use a clean and soft cloth or a hairbrush for this purpose.


  • You must avoid applying any chemical-based solutions that may damage the wood from the inside. Instead, you can apply lemon oil or coconut oil using a cotton rag to the sculpture to bring out its natural shine. Lemon oil also helps to clean any stains on the sculpture.


  • Applying a layer of beeswax protects the wood from sun damage and hides even the smallest imperfections on the wood.


It is extremely important to preserve and protect wooden sculptures with proper care. A little carelessness and negligence can lead to their decay, resulting in losing all their beauty and strength. Therefore, a regular clean-up of the sculptures is a must to prolong their age and to maintain their shine and luster. 

How are wood statues made?

Wood has been a preferred material for sculptures and statues since ancient times. It is easy to work with than most metals and stones and therefore requires less effort to shape it into any desired shape or form. The texture of the wood gives an element of realism to the sculpture. The selection of an appropriate wood type is necessary for carving. Woods that are too resinous or coniferous are not considered good for carving as their fiber is very soft and thus lacks strength. On the other hand, wood such as Mahogany, Oakwood, Walnut wood, Weet cherry wood, etc., are preferred by sculptors because their fiber is harder.

A wood sculptor uses various tools such as a pointed chisel in one hand and a mallet in another to bring the wood to the desired measurement and to make intricate details on it. A carving knife is used to cut and smooth the wood. Other tools such as the gouge, V-tool, and coping saw also serve as important tools in wood carving. Although the wood carving technique is not as complex and tough as stone carving or metal sculpting, nonetheless, a wood carver requires a high level of skills and expertise to create a stunning sculpture.

1. Selecting the right wood

The process of wood carving begins with selecting a chunk of wood that is required according to the type and shape of the statue to be created by the sculptor. Both hardwoods and softwoods are used for making artistic pieces, however, hardwoods are preferred more than softer woods because of their durability and longevity. But if heavy detailing is to be done on the statue, wood with fine grain would be needed as it would be difficult to work with hardwood.

2. Shaping the wood

Once the wood type is selected, the wood carver begins the general shaping process using gouges of various sizes. A gouge is a tool having a curved cutting edge which is useful in removing large unwanted portions of wood easily without splitting the wood. The sculptor always carves the wood across the grain of the wood and not against it.


3. Adding detailing

When a refined shape of the statue is obtained, it is time for making details on the statue using different tools. This is achieved by using tools such as a veiner to make and a V-tool to create decorative and sharp cuts.


4. Surface finishing

Once finer details have been added, the sculptor is ready to smoothen the surface and give it a perfect finish. Tools such as rasps and rifflers are used to get a smooth surface. The finer polishing is obtained by rubbing the surface with sandpaper. If a textured surface is required, this step is skipped. Finally, to protect the statue from excessive dirt accumulation, the sculptor applies natural oils such as walnut or linseed oil all over it. This also brings a natural sheen to the statue.


Wood statues are lighter in weight and less expensive than metal or stone pieces. Because wood is prone to fast decay by fungus and algae, statues made out of this material are not preferred to be kept outside. The rich tradition of wood carving in countries such as Africa, Egypt, India, and Nepal has been followed for many centuries. Indian craftsmen are specialized in this classic art and continue to exhibit their extraordinary artistic skills.

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