A large volcanic andesite figure of Ganesa seated on a cushion (asana) of skulls, his feet pressed firmly on the floor, the chest crossed diagonally by a snake upavita thread, holding two bowls of sweetmeats, a conch-shell in his upper right hand and an axe in his upper left, wearing extensive jewellery including basubands, bracelets and belts, with matted hair and an intricate mukuta headdress surmounted by a further skull. In the back a large kala mask.Images of Ganesa in Indonesian art are characterised by many of the same attributes as those of his father Shiva. These include a crown of matted hair (mukuta), a skull (sometimes a crescent moon) and a sacred thread in the shape of a snake (upavita).
Ganesa is known (by various names in different parts of India and on different occasions) as the Remover of Obstacles, the god of domestic harmony and of success. He is the most beloved and revered of all the Hindu gods, and is always invoked first in any Hindu ceremony or festival.
One of the legends connected with the creation of Ganesa narrates that when Shiva was away fighting for the gods, the lady of the house, goddess Parvati was alone at home. On one occasion, she needed someone to guard the house when she was going for a bath. Unable to think of an alternative, she used her powers to create a son, Ganesa. She instructed Ganesa to keep strict vigil on the entrance to the house and not to allow anyone into the house. Ganesa agreed and stayed on the strictest of strict vigils. In the meantime Shiva returned happy after a glorious victory for the gods, only to be stopped at the entrance by Ganesa. Ganesa, acting on Parvati's orders, did not allow Shiva to enter the house. Shiva became enraged beyond control and in a fit of rage slashed the head of Ganesa. Parvati came out from her bath and was aghast at the scene. She was very angry at her consort for what had happened and explained him the situation. Shiva wanted to make it up to Parvati and agreed to put life back into Ganesa by putting the head of the first sleeping living creature that came in sight, which was sleeping with its head to the north. He sent his soldiers to go in search of the creature. The first creature, which came in sight was an elephant. So Shiva re-created his son with the head of the elephant. Parvati was still not totally happy so Shiva granted Ganesa a boon that before beginning of any undertaking or task people would worship Ganesa. Thus the reason for worship of Ganesa before start of any work.
For related examples see E. Sedyawati: Ganesha Statuary of the Kadiri and Sinhasari periods, Leiden 1994: p.335, no. 5. - (X.0519)
Ancient Near East