The attributes and characteristics of ganesh have evolved over many centuries of indian history. several of the sacred hindu texts relate myths and anecdotes associated with his birth and exploits and help to explain his distinct iconography. he is popularly held to be the son of shiva and parvati, although the puranas (ancient hindu and jain texts narrating the history of the universe and describing hindu cosmology, philosophy and geography) disagree about his birth, stating that he may have been created by shiva, or by parvati, or by shiva and parvati, or may simply have been discovered by shiva and parvati. it is a little known fact outside of india that ganesh has a brother skanda, who is worshiped particularly in southern india as the embodiment of grace, bravery and love of virtuous deeds.
iconic representations of ganesh show considerable variation, his form changing over time from that of a simple elephant in earliest depictions to the ganesh we know today, typically having the head of an elephant and a large rotund belly. he is generally shown with four arms, although the number may vary from two to sixteen. when in the four-armed configuration he usually holds his own broken tusk in his lower-right hand and a laddoo sweet in his lower-left hand which he tastes with his trunk. an axe or goad is held in the right upper hand and a noose is held in the left upper hand. in a modern variation, the lower-right hand does not hold the broken tusk but is turned toward the viewer in a gesture of protection and fearlessness (the abhaya mudra). each item carries it's own important spiritual significance and they (and the number of arms used to carry them) may vary to include a water lily, mace, discus, rosary, bowl of sweets, musical instrument, spear or staff, depending on the specific symbology intended by the artist. 🎨: harsh malik ✨🙏🕉🐘🌼