About this object

History of use

Indian popular religious prints have been published for nearly a century, first by German presses, later by Indian ones. The prints may take the form of calendars, posters, or simply images. The style of the representations is European. In the beginning they were Hindu images, but are now acquiring elements both of folk art and a romantic secularism. It is a living art currently influenced by the movie industry and non-Hindu religions. The images are a vehicle for advertising and are also used for religious purposes.

Cultural context

calendar art; popular religious art

Iconographic meaning

Ganesh, remover of obstacles, god of wisdom, protection, and guidance, and son of Shiva and Parvati, is identified by: elephant head; rat as vehicle, permitting Ganesh to remove obstacles where small size is needed; obesity containing entire universe; pot belly indicating prosperity in enterprise; three bands of ash or red trident as third eye, symbolizing relationship with Shiva; rice or sweet cakes, axe, noose, string of beads, and/or water vessel held in hands; water jar held by trunk; and swastika in palm to symbolize cyclical time.

Physical description

Rectangular calendar print depicting Genesha, a plump, four-armed, elephant-headed male seated upon rectangular gold platform in front of pyramidal purple temple covered in figural sculpture. Background sky is blue with green and orange clouds. He rests foot on left upon disc-shaped gold footstool. Brown rat at left feeds on red food ball. Genesha has three white parallel horizontal lines and a red dot on forehead. He holds gold container in trunk and one object in each hand: long stemmed gold container with silver ax-like projection at side, gold noose-like object, white food ball, his own broken tusk. Genesha wears: pink dhoti, green shawl, white, green and pink floral garland. He is heavily jeweled with gold crown, necklaces, arm and leg bands; one long silver necklace. Image surrounded by yellow border, wider at top and base. Printed in brown at top "Saroja Mills Ltd., Singanallur, Caimbatore". Metal edged at top.