Ganesh's broken tusk

Hi. I work in a New York neighborhood with a high concentration of Indian residents and businesses. There are a good number of shops that sell Hindu icons and statuary. I profess that I know just enough about the Hindu religion to ask this question. Anyway, statues of Ganesh - the elephant looking fellow - always have one or the other tusk broken, sometimes both. And it’s not that the statues are broken, they’re cast that way. I’ve asked about the broken tusk in a number of these shops, and no one seems to know what the deal is. Or do they, and I’m asking an offensive question that I ought not be asking?

Google’s yer friend, specifically first link, second page.

Since not everyone wants to skim google…

Huh. Google is my friend. Much obliged, pardner!

And for only $11,000 you can have this um…interpretation

Another take on where Ganesha hails from.

The story I’ve heard (which also explains the snake-belt) goes a follows: one day, Ganesha was riding around on his rat when he came across a snake. The rat was so frightened he threw Ganesha off; when Ganesha hit the ground, his stomach literally burst open, and all the cakes he had recently eaten came spilling out. Ganesha, a great lover of cakes, began gathering up all the split cakes and placing them back inside his stomach. Then he tied the snake around his stomach to keep it from bursting open again.

Watching this scene, the moon and constellations began laughing. Ganesha got annoyed, and broke off one of his tusks and angrily threw it at the skies.

This comes from my copy of the Larouse World Mythology book (which also mentions the other explanation, i.e. that he used the other tusk to write the Mahabharata).

The story of the writing of the Mahabharata is what I was taught. I guess the sage who composed the Mahabharata needed a scribe, and Brahma annointed Ganesa ( who became the patron diety of scribes, amongo his many duties), and as a sign of his devotion, he broke off his tusk to use as a pen.

It’s interesting to note that Ganesa, Siva and Parvati’s son, orignially had a more anthropmorphic head. I can’t remember the details, but during some altercation, Siva cut the poor little guys head off, and it was lost in the frey. Parvati was not happy about this, and demanded Siva find the boy a new head. Siva picked the head of a sacred white elephant, and the rest is History, I guess.

Huh! You’d think, with that kind of price, they’d post another photo of the back below or beside that one, instead of just giving a link. :smack:

Or maybe they aren’t anxious to sell it, after all. I admit it’s a consummate job of carving (yes, I like representational art; I don’t want to sprain my brain trying to figure out the “message”). :slight_smile: And if I were interested in owning it, one of the things I’d want to know is the identity of the artists who created it. I’m tempted to link to it in the “comparative” section of the Religions folder in my bookmarks, but the photos will undoubtedly go away when the piece is sold. <alas> It is a bee-you-tee-full image. But … his tusks don’t look broken - just small. hmmm.

… I wonder what the black spots on the sash that appear in the first photo were. Whatever, it was cleaned off before taking the rest of the pix.