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Shiva – The Adi-Nratya Guru

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Shiva – The Adi-Nratya Guru
$990.00FREE Delivery
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$198.00 (20%)
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Item Code: EH71
South Indian Temple Wood Carving
Artist: P. Sengottuvel
36.0" X 14.5" X 3.5"
8.4 Kg
This wood-statue, an excellent work of woodcarving, represents the six-armed Shiva as 'Adi-nratya-guru' – ever first teacher of dance. Shiva's statues in various postures of dance are abundant, and while describing such forms Shiva is often alluded to as the 'Adi-nratya-guru', an epithet which myths and texts give him – not a form revealing in a particular statue. He is, thus, 'Adi-nratya-guru' by scriptures – not by sculptures. In such statues he is represented either as performing a dance of vigour – 'anandatandava', or the dance of grace and beauty – 'lasya'; his form reveals dissolution, or creation; motion, or inertness; or, knowledge, or its beyondness. These are the aspects of Shiva, the dancer – not of Shiva, the 'Adiguru'. Guru – the Master, synthesises all them into his form, and the 'Adiguru', also all that, of which subsequent forms are offshoots.

The artist of this wood-piece has, however, wondrously translated into this form of Shiva this verbal analogy of the 'Adi-nratya-guru'. Shiva has not been represented in the statue as the dancer, but the Master dancer and the Innovator of dance-forms. In the sculpture, Shiva is absorbed into a dance form, which is manifold and reveals all essential 'bhavas' –aspects of existence. Shiva is known to have scanned cosmic disorder and incoherence into the vigorous and violent on the one hand, and the beauty, grace and delightful, on the other, both aspects revealing in his form as dance – 'tandava' and 'lasya', respectively. His rhythmic figure, curved on five stages at least, slightly deflecting right leg, emotionally charged face and breasts inflating with inner bliss reveal beauty and graciousness and are aspects of 'lasya'. His boisterously raised and disproportionately thrown left leg – not in accord with the rest of the figural anatomy, revealing vigour and violence, is an aspect of 'tandava'. Snake, so closely associated with Shiva, is not seen anywhere except encircling his left leg. In Indian tradition, snake is the symbol of agility and energy, and of death and long life – aspects of 'tandava', the dance of violent energy, and of dissolution and re-birth of life.

The dance is an activity, which reveals a 'bhava' – an aspect of that 'which is', that is, the existence. Such 'bhava'-revealing activity is fivefold – that which creates, sustains, veils, unveils, and destroys. The 'bhavas' that such activity – the dance reveals are six : 'shrishti' – creation; 'sanhara' – dissolution; 'vidya' – knowledge; 'avidya' – ignorance; 'gati' – motion; and 'agati' – inertness. As each of creation and dissolution, knowledge and ignorance, and motion and inertness contradict the other, in a dance they rarely appear together. This dance form of Shiva, however, unbelievably enshrines, not two but all six 'bhavas' together. The artist has ingeniously conceived the Shiva's form with six hands, each revealing a 'bhava' besides over-all rhythm, lyricism and aestheticism. The downwards cast middle right hand represents the gesture symbolising dissolution, while the golden mango – 'Hiranyagarbha' of the Rig-Veda, carrying middle left hand is symbolic of creation – re-birth of life, which the 'Hiranyagarbha' – the golden egg, seed or mango in the Rig-Veda symbolised. The upraised lower right hand, carrying rosary, is in 'vyakhyana-mudra' – the form making the mystery of existence known, while the upper left hand gesticulates that what is known is much less than what is beyond knowledge. The goad carrying upper right hand symbolizes motion, as the goad drives one to move, and the lower right hand, carrying noose that binds and renders motionless, represents inertness.

Sage Bharata, in his 'Natyashashtra, talks of four kinds of dances: ritual, non-ritual, abstract and interpretive. Ritual and non-ritual are objectives for which a dance was performed, and abstract and interpretive, the modes of dance. Like the classical 'Kathak', this dance form has the narrative thrust of Bharata's interpretive dance. The gesture of the upper left hand reveals the stage of 'varnan' – description of the theme, an aspect of almost all classical dances of India, and the middle right in 'vyakhyan-mudra' is the stage of entering into the mystery of the Cosmic Being. Various 'bhavas' are revealed using abstract symbols, which might have been the aspects of Bharata's abstract dance. If the upper left hand is in typical 'Kathak' posture, slightly deflecting right leg is a characteristic feature of 'Bharatanatyam' – another best-known classical dance of India.

Shiva's iconography is as much brilliant. The deity has been conceived with sharp feature typical of Chola bronzes. Oval face has an angular thrust with a protruding pointed chin. Lips are small but well-formed and cheeks a little prominent. The forehead, largely covered under the crown, has a prominent 'tripunda' mark. The towering 'jata-mukuta', ornamented with beads, laces and a narrow crown towards the forehead, is magnificent. Ornamentation is conventionalised except the sash loftily unfurling on sides. The 'prabha' – firearch, comprises of conventionalised banana creeper rising from the right sight and terminating on the left. Its end-part comprises a large bud. Perching on the creeper are three mythical parrots, two on the top and one seated isolated.

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