The great Lord Shiva breaks into His all-annihilating tandava. The beauty of this cosmic dance lies in the fact that it is at once destructive and creative. In the painting that you see on this page, He is captured in the most popular stance of the Nataraja: the left leg raised mid-air, the hands poised one above the other in the gajahasta and the abhaya mudras.
Beneath the foot of the right leg is Apasmara, the personification of avidya (ignorance). On either side of Shiva are His two wives, Kali (chaturbhujadharini) va Sati, each with a hand raised in generous blessing. The pedestal on which He stands is flanked by a pair of mortal devotees who gaze upon Him with adoration. The panel below depicts Nandi, the bovine companion of Shiva, flanked by a multitude of Hindu deities.
Framed with teakwood, this is a contemporary Tanjore painting. It features layers of glittering gold over luxuriant gesso work. From the flaying angavastram of the dancing Shiva to the attire of His two wives, the aureole that frames His figure and three templetops along the upper edge of the painting. The same is punctuated by inlaid stones, gleaming like jewels against gold.
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