Lord Ganesha as a musician makes for an unusual iconography. He is usually portrayed as a laddoo-eating boy deity, cradling in His mother’s Parvati’s lap in a Shiva-parivar ensemble, or as a warrior of the highest order. The painting of the son of Shiva that you see on this page depicts Him holding a veena. He is dancing while He strums its strings - note the right ankle raised gracefully in the air and the expressive contortion of the hip.
A trident motif appears on the belly of the veena. It is indicative of the all-pervading presence of the one who wields it, Lord Shiva Himself. Lord Ganesha holds it with His anterior right and posterior left hands, while in the remaining two hands He holds traditional implements. The complexion of His body is a pale ivory colour, while the insides of His ears and the surface of His veena are a denser, almost ochre colour. The hair of Lord Ganesha flays about His head just like it does in the figure of Nataraja. A wide-set halo glistens against the deep black skies in the background.
This veenadhari Ganesha composition is a fine example of pattachitra. A folk art form practised widely in Orissa, its most inimitable aspect is the homemade, fabric-based canvas called patta, which in this case is fashioned from rough-hewn tussar silk. In fact, it is the tussar silk canvas that lends to the composition its characteristic colours.
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