The Nataraja composition that you see on this page is a lifelike, skilfully finished one. The mudra of His hands convey abhaya or fearlessness (anterior right hand) and the grace of the divine gaja or elephant (anterior left hand). In His posterior hands are a damru (exuding the creative nada) and a flame of fire (the means of destruction). Crucial to the Nataraja iconography is the predominance of the naga (snake). Note the flaying snake-like locks of His hair; the ones that slither over His torso, wrists, and ankles like divine adornments; and the multi-hooded one that forms the crown on His head.
The prabhamandala (‘prabha’ is Sanskrit for ‘flame’) and the pedestal that frame the central figure, distinguish this work from your run-of-the-mill Nataraja sculptures. The three-ringed aureole does justice to the glamour of the tandava and gathers in a kirtimukha motif at the very top. Note the unusual, angular finish of the traditional lotus pedestal.
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