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The upper pavilion : a fully accomplished structure comprising an independent base, a rectangular pedestal with moulded corners consisting of conventionalised lotus motifs, and a top, has around the lower ends of the columns two female devotees, each carrying a bunch of flowers in her hand. They flank the figure of dancing Shiva on either side. Almost up to mid-height the columns on which the pavilion ascends do not have any foliage motifs or adornment. It is only onwards Shiva’s shoulders’ height that the Prabhavali begins having its adornment part. The figures of four auspicious birds with heads like a parrot but tail, more like a peacock, and beautifully curving vines, leaves, flower and fruit forms, and of course a couple of tree-stumps, comprise the semi-circular apex of the structure.
Fully absorbed in dance the six-armed Natesh, the king of dancer, is occupying the upper pavilion in the Prabhavali. The dance of accomplishment, not confining to any of the cosmic acts, creation, sustenance or dissolution, it represents Shiva as Trinity, not one of the Three. Accordingly, he is carrying in his hands a trident, his own part, rosaries in two of his hands, and a book in yet another, Brahma’s essential components, conch, Vishnu’s part, and a noose, his own, his son Ganesh’s and his consort Durga’s. The motion of the two legs, the left, lifted parallel to the earth and turned back from the knee-joint, and the right, twisted with outward thrust and supporting the entire figure on the toe is an aspect of Tandava : the dance of dissolution, but neither bursts flames of fire from his figure nor any of his hands is signifying dissolution, the essence of Tandava. His hair unfurls but not like the waves of sea in storm as his hair does in Tandava. It is the dance that creates and sustains and when it reaches the climax, the figure whirls like winds as in this form of dance.
A form of Shakti, identical to Shiva, with the same six arms and similar position of legs, arms and the entire anatomy, occupies the ground pavilion, the Prabhavali’s bottom part. Like Shiva, Shakti is also carrying attributes in her all six hands, though at least two of them are different from him. Rosaries in two hands, trident and conch are carried alike by both of them but in other two hands unlike Shiva’s noose and book, she is carrying a damaru – double drum, held knotted with a snake, and an object which is either an ear of corn or a bunch of flower. As against Shiva’s moderately adorned figure, the figure of the world Mother has been quite elaborately bejeweled. The crown that she is putting on is identical to Shiva, and like Shiva her hair also bursts from it, though while Shiva’s hair floats in the air, Parvati’s falls and lies elegantly on her shoulders, as should a woman’s. In both figures the portrayal of motion is amazing.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.