Siva Nataraja
Title Siva Nataraja
Accession Number 56.2/1
Museum Name National Museum, New Delhi
Gallery Name Archaeology
Object Type Archaeology
Main Material Bronze
Country India
Origin Place South India
Patron/Dynasty Chola
Period / Year of Work 12th Century AD
Dimensions Ht. 96.0 cm. Wd. 82.8 cm. Dep. 28.2 cm.
Brief Description Three-eyed and four-armed image of Siva Nataraja, dancing with the right foot on the prostrate demon Apasmara. The left leg is raised in the dancing gesture, kunchita-pada. The figure is surrounded by a circular aureole of flames (jvala- mala) issuing from the mouths of addorsed makaras at the base. Four of the flames are damaged. The arms are bifurcate at the shoulders. The front right hand is in abhaya-mudra (giving assurance), and a cobra is coiled round the forearm; the rear right hand holds the damaru (kettle-drum); the rear left hand holds the flame (agni); the front left arm is stretched across the body in the dancing gesture, gaja or danda-hasta. The hair is tied close to the crown by means of a snake and surmounted by a fan-shaped head-dress of kondrai leaves, and a tiara with fillet. The head-dress bears on the proper left side the crescent moon (ardha-chandra and a dhatura flower; a skull (munda) in the centre; and a cobra on the proper right. Thirteen braided locks, are extended on each side; and seven additional locks hang over the back in short curls. The river goddess, ganga, emerged from the extended locks on the proper right side: she is modelled in the round, with her hands joined in anjali-mudra and wears a coronet and other jewellery. The costume of the main figure consists of short drawers (kachha) secured by an elaborate girdle, the latter with a kirtimukha clasp in front. Other details include earrings (right makara-kundala; left patra- kundala), a headed necklace and a hara, tassels on each shoulder, yajnopavita, udarabandha, two bracelets on each wrist and one on each arm above the elbow, keyura (armlets), rings on every finger and toes, except with middle ones; a (bhriugipada) worn on the proper left leg, a siras-chakra behind the head, and anklets (pada-jataka). Apasmara holds a cobra in the left hand. The double-lotus pedestal is oval- shaped and mounted on a rectangular base having two circular holes in front and at the back.
Detailed Description Nataraja, the Lord of Dance, is regarded as the most outstanding expression of the divine rhythm and harmony of life, without which Indian art is inconceivable. In the dance are represented pancakrityas or the five activities of Shiva, viz. creation (srishti), preservation (sthiti), destruction (samhara), veiling (tirobhava), and grace (anugraha) and it is this cosmic activity that constitutes the central motif of the dance. As Nataraja, Shiva is conceived as one of the most sublime forms. The dance he performs here is the dance of bliss (ananda tandava). The Nataraja is bedecked with three eyes and four arms. The front left hand is depicted in dandahasta or the gajahasta pose thrown on the right side while the rear one holds agni, the fire, denoting power of destruction. His front right hand is in abhaya-mudra symbolizing protection and the one at the back holds a damaru, symbolizing power of creation. On the forearm of this hand is placed a bhujanga-valaya. The left leg of Nataraja is raised diagonally towards the right one with its foot up in air, denoting the path of salvation. Shiva tramples the demon Apasmara-purusha with his right leg. The image of Shiva is encircled in a prabhamandala - which signifies 'omkara,' - a feature laid down in the Silparatna. Adorning the head of the lord is a jatamukuta, embellished with the river goddess Ganga, a snake, jewels, flowers, a crescent moon and a human skull. Issuing from the mukuta are several jatas on either side spreading horizontally, touching the prabhamandala. Placed in every alternate jata are the flowers of dhurdhura, arka and other flowers. Shiva is adorned with a pearl necklace, a yajnopavita a urassutra (a chest band), rings in the hands, anklets, a makara-kundala in the right ear patra-kundala on his left ear.