Meeting God

Our Curator for International and Decorative Arts, Nilesh Mistry has written us a blog post about an exciting arrival at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery.

He writes:

At almost a thousand years old, a sculpture of the Hindu deity Ganesha takes centre stage in the exhibition Celebrating Ganesha at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, which runs until 15 May 2016.

1872.7-1.59 Stone Ganesh
1872.7-1.59 – Stone Ganesh

This sculpture is on loan from the British Museum as part of their Spotlight Tour Loan Programme and Bradford is the only venue in Yorkshire to display it.

Throughout the world Hindus channel their prayer to deities to reach a formless Divine creator and incorporated into such sculptures are physical symbolism.

These are known as attributes, which serve to inform worshipers of the rightful path as can be seen in this sculpture of Ganesha – below are a few of many represented on this sculpture:

  • A Goad (Anushka held in the lower left hand) – So that Ego and Pride must be conquered
  • Broken Tusk (held in the top right hand) represents the sacrifice of learning in the pursuit of wisdom.
  • Large ears instil the virtues of listening before acting
  • Large belly warns against excess and to live in moderation
  • His mouse (varhana or vehicle at his feet) represents desire – it is restless impatient, never still and so needs to be controlled.

Displayed alongside are a range of exhibits drawn from the 20th century collections of Bradford Museums and Galleries.  They range from wooden sculptures to textiles & illustrate the popularity of Ganesha among Hindus world wide over millennia and as depicted by Indian artists and crafts people.


Ganesh Toran. embroidery, Gujarat India 1940s
Ganesh Toran. embroidery, Gujarat India 1940s

This colourful textile Ganesh Toran would serve to decorate the main entrance to a home or shrine throughout the state of Gujarat in India.

They add colour and charm to the doorway to dwellings welcoming visitors and to please and attract Lakhsmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity – the other god that largely features in these textiles.

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