Siva Nataraja
Title Siva Nataraja
Accession Number 57.16/1
Museum Name National Museum, New Delhi
Gallery Name Archaeology
Object Type Archaeology
Main Material Bronze
Origin Place South India
Patron/Dynasty Chola
Period / Year of Work 11th Century AD
Dimensions 85 x 34 x 27.7 cms.
Brief Description Three eyed and four armed image of Siva Nataraja dancing with the rght 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 attached to the pedestal. Two flames are broken and lost. The arms are by 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-drums). The rear left hand holds the flame; the front left arm is stressed across the body in the dancing gesture, the hair is tied close to the crown 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 skull (munda) in the centre. Five braided locks, interspread with flowers, are extended on eachside; and nine additional locks hang over the back in short curls. The rive goddess Ganga emerged from the extended locks from the proper right side; she is adorned by a coronet and there jewellery and both the hands are joined in anjali-mudra. From the extended locks on the proper left emerges a cobra. The costume of the main figure consists of a short drawers (Kachha) having an incised dotted design, secured by an elaborate girdle, the latter with a kirtimukha clasp in front. Other details include ear-rings right (makarakundala); left (patra-kundala); a flower decked above each ear necklaces, a chain of flowers on each shoulder, yajnopavita, udarabandha, three bracelets on each wrist and another one at the elbow on ear arm, spiral armlets (keyuras), rings on every fingers except the middle ones; a garter with bell (bhringi-pada) worn on each leg, and anklets (pada-jatakas). There is a siras-chakra behind the head. The prostrate demon holds a cohra in his left hand. The oval-shaped pedestal (lotus petals not shown) is mounted on a rectangular base with pilaster motif. There is a ring attached at each of the fourcorners of the base.
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 Apasmarapurusha 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.