Unusual Ganesha statue discovered in Java

An unusual 12th-century Ganesha statue was recovered by the Mpu Purwa Historical Object Preservation Center in East Java from a private collector. The statue is said to be unique in Indonesia because it depicts the elephant-headed god riding a mouse. It seems that many local archaeological treasures are in the hands of locals and even local hotels for use as mascots!

what ganesha says
photo credit: celinecelines

Center recovers Ganesha statue
01 April 2009, Jakarta Post

The Mpu Purwa Historical Object Preservation Center in Malang, East Java, has recovered a 12th-century stone statue of Ganesha, believed to be the only one of its kind in Indonesia. It features a special trait not found on other Ganesha statues in Indonesia – the elephant-headed deity is seen riding atop a mouse.

“The mouse is apparently included as an animal used by Ganesha as a vehicle, but this type of statue has never been found in Indonesia before. Ganesha is usually seen riding the Lembu Nandhini cow, the Jatayu bird, or the Padmasana lotus,” Malang archeologist Suwardono said Tuesday.

Other singularities of this statue, recently handed over by a private collector, include Ganesha’s stiff facial expression and a badhong carving on the shoulders. The decorations worn by the god, also called samboghakaya, are also more lavish.


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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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