Not just the diction or strings of lyre, even a stone piece might become the medium of a lyric and vibrate into a melody if beauty and exoticism is its expression. An expression of exoticism this statue is a lyric that stone sings on its unseen strings. Overwhelmingly pleasing and exotic, whatever the divine image that it represents, the stone seems to sing a song, divine, sublime and unheard. It is not just the benevolent image, its aura, posture, or the purity of marble, its medium, its pleasant light saffron or gently laid gold or the exotic form of his mounts, it is rather the totality of effect to include also the elephant god’s divine ease that transforms the stone into a symphony. Rare as an art-piece the statue is rarer in its divinity. Not by his words or through invocation the elephant god blesses by his sheer presence and this sublime image ensures it : it makes his presence felt.
The statue represents the auspicious Lord Ganesha riding his chariot – a low floor tiny but exceptionally beautifully designed cart driven by three cute mice with wide open greenish-grey eyes and upwards raised muzzles. Elegantly saddled they look like three milk white tiny bulls drawing the Indra’s cart in some festival of gods. As if employing full force, and hence their subdued figures, all three mice seem to make a forward move. A basket-like designed luxurious couch Lord Ganesha’s chariot is only such large as could accommodate him alone. Lord Ganesha seems to be on a long inspection trip around the world ensuring that all is well and the notorious and detrimental forces are well contained. The mouse is Lord Ganesha’s regular mount; however, on a long errand anticipating the journey’s tediousness, as also that it could be tiresome, the compassionate Lord summons three of them for sharing the divine ordeal. With his normal right hand held in ‘abhay’ he ensures protection for all. Though in absolute ease and fully relaxed, Lord Ganesha is so seated that can step out of his cart any moment to attend an emergency, and accordingly is designed his cart with a low floor and free opening on the forepart.
The artist has sculpted a usual four-armed image of the elephant god with usual four arms carrying in the two upper the symbolic goad and noose, one of the normal two held in ‘abhay’, and with reins in it the fourth, commanding the vehicle; however, in obtaining exceptional aesthetic level and technical perfection the statue is outstanding. In plasticity, fluidity, vibrancy and lyrical quality the statue seems to have been carved from a wax-like soft medium, not one from stone. He has most amicably assimilated in his form elements otherwise in constant conflict. He is an alert carter but as much casually is laid his reins’ holding hand over his left knee. This casualness that reflects in the gesture of his hand and the left knee defines the mood of Lord Ganesha’s entire being. In his earthwards suspending right leg the artist seems to have conceived his image in ‘lalitasana’; however, the requirement of the theme necessitated that the left leg was sculpted as upwards raised the artist modeled it as in ‘utkut-akasana’. The cute knotted trunk tells the same tale. Left inclining it finally turns to right, a blend of two classical forms ‘valampury’ and ‘edampury’.
The image has been sculpted with a flat horizontal plaque as its base, though its length falls short of the total composition; the sportive mice seem to gallop out of it. Though provided with wheels, the beautifully embellished coach is almost like Lord Ganesha’s regular seat. With its fore-wheels smaller, and back, large, the sculptor has designed it something like a racing car. The coach’s elevated back with rounded sides substitutes the lavish bolster that usually serves as backrest on his normal throne or seat in a painting or sculpted image. The sculptor has shown rare ingenuity in carving such details as the folds of his ‘antariya’ and sash, and decorative patterns on his coach.
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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