The glamour of the Nataraja as He dances: the all-annihilating tandava, the avidya-roopi (ignorance personified) Apasmara trampled underfoot. The Tanjore-style iconography of dancing Shiva that you see on this page features a softer, fuller physique, contorted into a particularly difficult stance. He is the ashtabhujadhari Nataraja, the one possessed of (‘dhari’) eight (‘ashta’) arms (‘bhuja’), with a leg raised as high as the posteriormost arm.
The serene composure of countenance contrasts sharply with the aggression predominating the language of His body. Same goes for the dark, ashen complexion of those limbs and the vibrant colours of the silks and the tigerskin that clothe them. A mass of pure gold embellishment defines the shringar of the Lord - from the bracelets on the limbs and the necklaces down the torso, to the crown on His head.
The tresses of Shiva are gathered in a gigantic bun framing the delicate features of His youthful face. In the foreground is a miniature representation of the standing Devi. Her iconography is replete with the same gold embellishments as the central figure. The solid-coloured background of silken scarlet brings out the beauty of the gold, which is characteristic of Tanjore paintings.
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