Chola Bronzes:

Shiva as Lord of Dance (Nataraja)


Nataraja (the Lord of Dance), is a representation of the Hindu God, Shiva. He is shown as the cosmic dancer who performs his divine dance to destroy the universe. The Nataraja originated in the state of Tamil Nadu in Southern India.

It is said that if a single icon had to be selected to represent the extraordinarily rich and complex cultural heritage of India, the Shiva Nataraja is most suitable and the best choice. The nataraj is the most famous of all the bronze icons in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. It is known to be so excellent in its iconic form that it comes as close to being a abstract of the intelligence of the Indian people. The cobra uncoils from his lower right forearm, and the crescent moon and a skull are on his crest. He dances within an arch of flames. This dance is called the Dance of Bliss and the upper right hand holds a small drum shaped like an hourglass.

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