IMAGES FOR ENLARGEMENTS
bronze figure of the deity dancing the cosmic dance 'tandava' on the back of the
prostrate dwarf goblin, Apasmara, the symbol of ignorance.
The figure's matted fanned hair containing the crescent moon and a
small head effigy of the goddess of the river Ganges, Ganga.
He wears jewellery around his neck and a tiger skin around his waist.
His upper right hand holds a drum (damaru)
and his left fire (agni). His
lower right hand in abhaya mudra
(fearlessness) and his left in gaja
All on a detachable double lotus base.
The aureole of flames fitting
encircle the figure, missing
Areas of wear
Sanskrit and English
inscriptions on reverse of base
Measures; 10 1/4" ( 26.0 cm )
The symbolism of this iconic figure derives from Shiva's dance
performed at the centre of the universe, in the golden hall of
The sages living there had spent their lives studying the cosmos,
seeking the supreme truth.
But as time passed their sense of self-importance and pride overtook
and deluded them.
Shiva, in order to teach them a lesson, appeared in the form of a
hermit and seduced the sages and their wives.
He then became a target of the sages wrath, who having considered him a
temptation, set about to destroy him.
Using their magic powers they created a serpent, a tiger and a dwarf
goblin and set them upon Shiva.
Shiva responded by skinning the tiger alive, wearing the serpent around
his neck and jumping on the dwarf goblin and started dancing on his
The sages saw that in doing these feats Shiva had, in fact, flayed the
tiger of their ambition, tamed the serpent of their passion and crushed
the goblin of their ego.
He thus imparted the lesson that through belief in him, the soul can be
transported from the bondage of illusion and ignorance to salvation and
Shiva's dance of ecstasy captures the cosmic cycle of generation,
organization and destruction.
Or in other words, the rhythm of life.
It encapsulates the essence of cosmic truth.
The flaming body halo encircling Shiva (missing on this figure)
represents both the great wheel of samsara, filled with the infinite
cycle of births and rebirths and also symbolizes the boundaries of the
Through this act he became to be known as Shiva Nataraja the Lord of