Ganesha tattoos are the ink representation of the Hindu deity also known as Vinayaka, Binayak or Ganapati. You will find images of Ganesha throughout Thailand, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka. In Hinduism, Ganesha is worshiped no matter the affiliation.
Ganesha is easy to identify by his large elephant head and his four arms. Ganesha is known as the god of removing obstacles. He is also known as the patron of sciences and arts as well as the benevolent being of wisdom and intellect.
In this article, we will spend some time discussing some of the history behind the Ganesha and what this God symbolizes in life and in a tattoo. We hope by the end of this post you will have a better understanding of the Ganesha tattoo and what it means to the people wearing it.
Many might wonder what Ganesha looks like and how she is depicted in tattoos around the world. Ganesha is extremely well-liked in Indian art. Unlike many of the other deities, Ganesha has shown many variations of his distinct patterns over time.
Ganesha might be pictured playing with family, sitting down or in an elevated position, she might be dancing or fighting demons. Fortunately, because of the many ways Ganesha is portrayed, a Ganesha tattoo can take many forms and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Ganesha in a plethora of positions.
Images of Ganesha were everywhere in India by the 6th century. The earliest images were of Ganesha sitting. Ganesha has a big belly and an elephant head. Most depictions of Ganesha will show him with four arms holding different items. However, the common items held by Ganesha in this image are his own broken tusk. He is also known to be holding rope and an axe.
These all have specific meanings, but we will get into that soon. You may also see Ganesha’s trunk turning sharply to taste a sweet he is holding. On some occasions, however, you may see Ganesha as being depicted with a human head.
In Hindu mythology, there is much discussion on how Ganesha got to have the head of an elephant. One story explains that the goddess Parvati wanted to take a bath and in doing this, she created a boy to guard the entrance to the room where she bathed. Her husband, Shiva, returned and wished to enter the room that the boy (Ganesha) was guarding and he wasn’t allowed in. In a fit of rage, Shiva lopped the head off the boy which upset Parvati.
Shiva sent his army out to find the head of the first animal they spotted and brought it back to be attached to the boy’s body. By doing so, the boy was brought back to life. The elephant head is a representation of wisdom and the gaining of knowledge by way of listening and reflection. In addition, many families will place a statue of Ganesha at doorways to protect them from unwanted visitors.
Another story from Hindu lore discusses how Ganesha lost one of his tusks. There are different versions of this story but one of the most popular ones says that Ganesha broke his own tusk off so he was able to transcribe the Mahabharata. During the process of writing this down, Ganesha’s pen stopped working so he snapped off his own tusk as to not have to stop working. In this way, the broken tusk symbolizes sacrifice, and this is especially true in the subject of art.
The other story of how Ganesha lost his tusk was that he was guarding his father Shiva while he napped, and a warrior named Parashuram came to visit. Again, Ganesha would not allow Parashuram entry. This infuriated Parashuram and he threw an axe at Ganesha. It was stopped with his tusk and was broken. This earned him the nickname, “One Toothed”.
Furthermore, Hindu mythology tells us of a sage named Vyasa asking Ganesha to transcribe a sacred text that is called the Mahabharata. Because Ganesha chose to understand the writings before transcribing, Ganesha has also been known as a symbol of work ethic and a god of education. Prudence and wisdom were also characteristics of Ganesha. His blessings in the marketplace cast good luck onto business owners.
Ganesha Tattoo Meanings
Ganesha, as a whole, has many meanings but there is much meaning to be taken out of the details of the image of Ganesha. His small mouth represents the idea of talking less and listening more with his large ears. His big head symbolizes the ability to think big and the idea of the eternal soul. His small eyes tell us of his power of concentration.
Ganesh is missing a tusk that tells us to discard the bad things in life and retain the good. On that same note, his large belly tells us to peacefully digest the good and bad we come across in life. The axe in his hand tells us to cut off bonds of attachment while the noose on the other hand is said to be a symbol of pulling closer to goals we’ve set for ourselves.
When getting a Ganesha tattoo, there are many different directions you can go and many different meanings you can take from this image. Most of these tend to revolve around the arts but there are many meanings hidden in the pictures and mythologies, as we have talked about above.
Whatever your reason might be for getting a Ganesha tattoo, we want to make sure that you have done your research and have thought it through. We hope this article has helped you along the way in your journey to your next tattoo and helped you to see the meaning behind the Ganesha tattoo.
The Ganesha tattoo is one that holds great meaning and we would love to help you get to your finished product. If you have any questions about which artist you should see or what shop to visit, let us know. We have experience in helping artists and customers connect and would love to help you do the same.