Introduction of Ganesa Beyond
The Indian Frontiers
Ganesa probably reached China through Central Asia and Chinese
Turkestan. However, it appears to have reached there at a very early
date, for there are two early representations of Ganesa in China.
One is a fresco in the rock-cut caves at Tun-huang and the other
is a stone image carved in low relief in the rock-cut temple at
Kung-hsien The former is depicted along with other Hindu deities
such as the Sun, the Moon and the Hindu god of love, Kamadeva and
the Navagrahas. On stylistic grounds it can be dated to 6th century.
The stone image at Kung-hsien can be dated on the basis of inscriptional
evidence, to 53l A.D. It, thus, becomes the earliest dated image
of Ganesa. He is shown seated in the true Indian cross legged posture.
He has two hands, the right one holding lotus and the left, the
cintamani jewel. The inscription refers to him as the 'Spirit King
Two forms of Ganesa were known to the Chinese and the Japanese.
Of these, Vinayaka was the single form and the Kangi-ten was the
double form. There are many representations of Vinayaka who is usually
shown seated. He has two hands, left holding a radish and the right
holding a parasu (Fig. 14). Notwithstanding the fact that there
is documentary evidence to show that the double form was secretly
worshipped in China as late as 11th century no images of the double
form have been found. This may perhaps be due to the ban on the
worship of Kangi-ten imposed by emperor Chen Tsung in 1017 by an