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An Antique Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance - India - 19th Century

Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance

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Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance
Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance

Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance
Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance

Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance
Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance

Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance


Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance


Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance


Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance


Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance

Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance

Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance

Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance


Bronze Shiva Nataraja - Lord of Dance


Cast 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 hasta mudra.

All on a detachable double lotus base.


The aureole of flames fitting that should
encircle the figure, missing


Areas of wear

Sanskrit and English inscriptions on reverse of base

Measures; 10 1/4" ( 26.0 cm ) high inclusive



The symbolism of this iconic figure derives from Shiva's dance performed at the centre of the universe, in the golden hall of Chidambaram.

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 back.

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 eternal serenity.

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 cosmos.

Through this act he became to be known as Shiva Nataraja the Lord of Dance.




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© Copyright; Richard Willsher Antique Asian Art 2011

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