Admired for the sensuous depiction of the figure and the detailed treatment of their clothing and jewelry, Chola-period bronzes were created using the lost wax technique, commonly known by its French name, cire perdue. Because each sculpture made in this fashion requires a separate wax model, each is unique, but because they are religious icons, Chola-period sculptures also conform to well-established iconographic conventions.
Worshipped as the god of good luck and remover of obstacles, Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati, is one of the most popular gods in the Hindu pantheon. The rotund body and short legs of this 11th-century sculpture of Ganesha typifies representations of the deity. Ganesha's elephant head is the result of a quarrel between Shiva and Parvati. Angered by Ganesha's refusal--at Parvati's behest--to let him see his wife while she was bathing, Shiva cut off Ganesha's head, and Parvati was devastated with grief. In order to soothe her, Shiva replaced the head with that of the first creature he saw, which happened to be an elephant.
Ganesha holds a broken tusk in his front right hand; in addition, he holds a mace and a lasso, which are symbolic respectively of his position as god of war and his ability to advantageously ensnare a devotee.