Ganesha idol, dating back to 2nd century CE, found in Andhra Pradesh
| Friday | 9th April, 2021
This is definitely the oldest Ganesha idol in both Telugu states and arguably one of the oldest in south India. The potter was well versed with the iconography while making it.
A 2nd century CE idol of Lord Ganesha was found at an agricultural field near Pothugundu Dinne in Anantapur district on Thursday. The terracotta idol, according to archaeologist E Sivanagi Reddy, dates back to the Satavahana period based on the iconography, style of art and delineation found during the exploration in and around Nilakanthapuram village in Madakasira mandal.
Archaeologists stumbled upon the idol at a farmland belonging to former minister N Raghuveera Reddy.
The 6x4x1.5cm idol is seen seated in Ganesha’s signature ‘laitasana’ posture. “This is definitely the oldest Ganesha idol in both Telugu states and arguably one of the oldest in south India. The potter was well versed with the iconography while making it,” said Sivanagi, who is the CEO of Cultural Centre of Vijayawada and Amaravati.
Explaining further, Sivanagi said the idol’s elephantine head was designed without using any stencil material and was purely handcrafted by the potter which was one of the key features during the Satavahana times. “The proboscis is clearly seen turned towards the right side, which is another unique feature at such an early date. These features facilitated us to identify it as Ganesha’s figure, whose ears, hands and legs are broken due to constant tilling of land,” Sivanagi added.
Art historian RH Kulkarni, who works at the College of Fine Arts in Karnataka, too confirmed that it was an image of Ganesha made during the time when Brahmanical images started taking perfect forms. Kulkarni also cited a confirming reference in Gathasaptasati compiled by Hala, the Satavahana emperor.
Sivanagi also found polished redware of the Satavahana times as associate finds to the terracotta Ganesa image. “The idol was handmade using levigated clay, and baked or burnt well in a separate kiln under the supervision of a potter, who was an expert in handmade sculpture,” Sivanagi said, adding that with the discovery of the image and pottery, Nilakanthapuram has now gained a spot on the Satavahana map.
This is the second such terracotta Ganesha datable to the same period (2nd century CE). In the 1980s, another one was reported from Veerapuram in Kurnool district.
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