Ganesha and Shesha
Ganesha’s relationship with the serpent demi-god Shesha is as ancient as it is complex. Some icons depict Shesha rising behind Ganesha in protection, while this icon clearly shows the two doing battle, Ganesha’s left hand grasping the snake’s tail while his right holds Shesha’s head at bay. A conversation with the sculptor might have explained the symbolism behind this sculpture but we didn’t have the chance to do so.
Generally speaking, snakes are both feared and revered in Hindu mythology, something which mirrors the reality of venomous serpents and humans living in close proximity for millennia. It is estimated that almost 50,000 people die of snakebite in India every year, therefore it is unsurprising serpents inspire such fear and reverence. In his role as Remover of Obstacles, Ganesha would be called upon by worshippers to defend them against death by snakebite. Perhaps this icon was created to invoke that protection.
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6 in / 15 cm
4 lb / 1.8 kg