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Sculptures > Wood > Lord Shiva: Nataraja or Nratya Dakshinamurti
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Lord Shiva: Nataraja or Nratya Dakshinamurti

Lord Shiva: Nataraja or Nratya Dakshinamurti

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South Indian Temple Wood Carving
Artist: P. Sengottuvel

2.9 ft X 1.25 ft X 0.3 ft
10.2 Kg
Item Code:
EG89
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$495.00
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Viewed 5824 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
This eighty-five cm. tall statue, carved out of a single piece of Vangai wood, a fine timber from Kalakorchi region in Tamilnadu used for wood-carving now for centuries, represents Lord Shiva in his Nataraja form. Shiva danced not only to create and destroy or to delight but also to teach dance. He is hence revered as the 'Adiguru' – the earliest and the supreme master of dance, widely known as Nataraja, the king of dancers, as also Nratya Dakshinamurti – One who is 'daksha' or expert in dance and music. In this statue, Shiva seems to be demonstrating an aspect of 'anandatandava' but with an over-all bearing of 'lasya' – that is, the 'anandatandava' blended with 'lasya'. He might not be hence perceived as performing a dance, but only as demonstrating one of its modes. Nataraja and Dakshinamurti forms of Shiva are more popular in South India. They might even be seen as innovations of South Indian Shaivite tradition and art. This statue has been carved pursuing characteristic South Indian style and iconographic norms. It might be hence contemplated also as 'Nratya Dakshinamurti'.

The four-armed Lord Shiva, represented here in a dance mode, has under his feet Apasamarapurusha – enertness or forgetfulness personified, which is a characteristic feature of 'anandatandava'. Apasamara – enertness, awaits 'anandatandava' – dance of dissolution, to end, for after 'anandatandava' is accomplished and dissolution has taken place, there shall prevail nothing but enertness – Apasamara. Obviously, this form of Shiva represents a step of 'anandatandava'. But 'anandatandava' is swifter than winds, and when performed in full ecstasy there emit from Shiva's head and palms flames of fire symbolising explosion of ultimate cosmic energy and its dynamics. Though Shiva's hair fling flames-like on both sides of his head, actual flames, so characteristic of 'anandatandava', are missing. The dance does not have also the boisterousness of 'anandatandava'. Obviously, in this statue, Lord Shiva might not be perceived as engaged in 'anandatandava' but only as demonstrating one of its modes, more like its 'Adiguru' rather than the one performing it himself.

In most other things, the statue represents Shiva with his usual attributes not carried in his hands during 'anandatandava'. 'Abhaya', which he is imparting with his lower right hand is its only exception. Goad, which he is carrying in his uppermost right hand, leaping antelope, which he is carrying in his upper left hand, and 'varada', which he is imparting by his lower left hand, are normal features of Shiva's conventionalised iconography. Goad keeps the straying ones to the right path, and antelope suggests that it was from his hand that the time shot off and it was out of him that the motion had its beginning. Excellent anatomical proportions, fine well-defined features, elaborate ornamentation with elegantly bejewelled 'jatamukuta', and 'tripunda' mark on forehead, define the image of the great Lord. Apasamara holds in one of his hands a snake symbolising endless existence, and a flower suggestive of the birth of life from the womb of darkness.

"Prabhavali', comprising conventionalised floral and leafy creepers with ecstatic birds – mythical parrots, perching on them, is quite an attractive feature of the statue. It rises from a base consisting of two layers made of conventionalised designing patterns. At the foot of 'prabhavali', there are two devotee sages with long beards and hands folded in reverence. Just above the 'vedika', there lies the figure of Apasamara, supporting on its hips the great Lord Shiva. Contained within a 'prabhavali', with a 'vedika' below and its apex above, the image acquires votive character of a sanctum deity.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.


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