The dancing figure of Nataraja, Shiva as the lord of dancers, evolved as a fully
developed icon, through the work of local Indian artisans during the Chola period, a little over
a thousand years ago. The dance of Shiva is associated with the destruction of the world but
there are other dances that he does too.
In this handmade bronze idol, he is depicted as killing Apasmara (the dwarf demon of
ignorance) and dancing his Anand Tandav dance. The Athi-bhanga posture (many twists in
the body and arms) of Nataraja is the portrayal of rhythmic fluidity and youthful energy during the cosmic dance. He perfectly balances himself on his right leg while treading upon the writhing
body of the demon, Apasmara. His left leg is lifted across his body in the Bhujanga Trasita
stance. This posture signifies falling away from the veil of illusion from the devotee’s mind. His
right hand is in the blessing of Abhaya mudra. His left assumes the Gajahasta mudra
ensuring the protection of the devotees. His rear right hand hold his damru (the hourglass drum)
to that keeps the rhythm during his dance. Left-hand makes ardhachandra mudra, holding a
flame in the hollow of his divine palm.
The Lord of Dance’s long matted tresses, usually piled up in a knot above his head, loosen during his dance, flying freely on both sides. Through his unruly tresses, the datura flower - his favorite - blooms and goddess Ganga emerges. The hairs of Nataraja are long enough to touch the encircling prabhamandala, the garland of flames representing an endless cycle of birth and death.
Made from Panchaloha in Swamimalai, this aesthetically pleasing super large Nataraja idol, is an art connoisseur’s delight and a prime reminder of the depth of ancient Indian art and culture.
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