Padma Shri Dr Prakash Kothari’s fifth book titled 'Ganesha: Through the Ages' was launched by Maharashtra’s Hon Minister for Culture, Higher Education and Technology, Shri Vinod Tawde in the presence of film director Shri Madhur Bhandarkar, renowned archaeologist Shri Ravi Shankar and other dignitaries at a function held at Jehangir Art Gallery on August 27, 2019.
Dr Kothari also displayed over 200 rare Ganeshas from his collection at an exhibition at the same venue lasting from August 28 to September 2, 2019.
This book showcases Dr Kothari’s invaluable collection of Lord Ganesha in various forms and contains many interesting and lesser known facts about the deity. For example, it is believed the oldest Ganesha with epigraphic evidence was found in China in 531 AD. However, Dr Kothari displayed a terracotta seal with a bull, a symbol of virility, and an inscription in the Brahmi script, which he has established was probably from the period between the 1st and 4th centuries AD.
Dr Kothari says that he came across the artefact on one of his many weekend trips to flea markets like Chor Bazaar, across Mumbai. He said that he authenticated the find with the help of the late archaeologist MK Dhavilkar, TS Ravishankar of The Archeological Survey of India, and Dr Shailendra Bhandare of The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford. “They all traced it back to the period between the 1st and 4th centuries AD. Which means the oldest Ganesha on the planet is in India!“
The book and the exhibition also show how contrary to the early belief in western cultures that Lord Ganesha was a Vighnakarta, which only changed in the 6th century when he became a Vighnaharta, there is historical evidence to conclusively say that Lord Ganesha was never a Vighnakarta.
The book also showcases what is arguably the only image of Lord Ganesha on the planet that has two hands and a halo, according to Dr Kothari. There are also depictions in various forms includinng terra-cotta, stone, metal, wood and bone sculptures as well as remarkable miniature paintings & book covers of 18th-century.
The Lord is portrayed on diverse glass and porcelain moulds, age-old coins, Indian and foreign philately and other postal stationary. It also includes Ganesha on stamp papers, receipt and court fees stamps and even on matchbox labels. Ganesha is also skillfully showcased on various jewellery forms like finger rings, earrings, pendants and bracelets. It even has unique artifacts from the Maratha Empire.
The book has exquisite photographs, is beautifully illustrated and is illuminated with authenticated comments highlighting striking features and iconic history.
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