South Indian / Shiva as Lord of the Dance (Shiva Nataraja) / Chola period, 12th centurySouth Indian
Shiva as Lord of the Dance (Shiva Nataraja)
Chola period, 12th century

View Larger Image

View Full Catalog Record Below

This image is one of over 108,000 from the AMICA Library (formerly The Art Museum Image Consortium Library- The AMICO Library™), a growing online collection of high-quality, digital art images from over 20 museums around the world. offers subscriptions to this collection, the finest art image database available on the internet. EVERY image has full curatorial text and can be studied in depth by zooming into the smallest details from within the Image Workspace.
Preview the AMICA Library™ Public Collection in Luna Browser Now

  • Cultures and time periods represented range from contemporary art, to ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian works.
  • Types of works include paintings, drawings, watercolors, sculptures, costumes, jewelry, furniture, prints, photographs, textiles, decorative art, books and manuscripts.

Gain access to this incredible resource through either a monthly or a yearly subscription and search the entire collection from your desktop, compare multiple images side by side and zoom into the minute details of the images. Visit for more information on the collection, click on the link below the revolving thumbnail to the right, or email us at .

Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Dates/Places: South Indian
Creator Active Place: South Indian
Creator Name-CRT: South Indian
Title: Shiva as Lord of the Dance (Shiva Nataraja)
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1000
Creation End Date: 1099
Creation Date: Chola period, 12th century
Creation Place: India, Tamil Nadu
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Copper alloy
Dimensions: H. 29 1/4 in. (74.3 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.029
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: The bronze sculptures of Hindu gods and Buddhist deities cast during the Chola period (880-1279) are among the most renowned sculptures in world art. The Cholas came to power in the late 9th century, and until the late 13th century ruled a large part of south India from their homeland near Thanjavur on the southeastern coast, maintaining diplomatic ties with countries as distant as China and Indonesia. Chola rulers were active patrons of the arts, and during their rule, literature, dance, and the other performing arts flourished. They also constructed enormous temple complexes decorated with stone representations of the Hindu gods.

Admired for the sensuous depiction of the figure and the detailed treatment of their clothing and jewelry, Chola-period bronzes were created using the lost wax technique, commonly known by its French name, cire perdue. Because each sculpture made in this fashion requires a separate wax model, each is unique, but because they are religious icons, Chola-period sculptures also conform to well-established iconographic conventions.

As devout Hindus, the Cholas revered Shiva as their tutelary deity in his role as Lord of the Dance, or Shiva Nataraja, depicted here in this 12th-century sculpture. Under Chola patronage the concept of Shiva Nataraja became closely associated with the performance of one particular dance, the dance of bliss (or ananda tandava), and with one particular pose--a four-armed Shiva standing on the back of a dwarf with his left leg poised in front of his body. It is believed that Shiva first performed the dance of bliss in order to redeem a group of sages who were practicing an unorthodox form of Hinduism. In an attempt to resist Shiva, the sages challenged him with a tiger, a snake, and a dwarf-demon. Shiva subdued all three. As a result, the Lord of the Dance often wears a snake belt and an animal-skin loincloth, and he usually stands on the back of a dwarf. These three creatures symbolize the untam
Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 18.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Hong Kong and Singapore: Hong Kong Museum of Art and National Museum Singapore, 1993, pp. 56-57.
Related Document Description: Lee, Sherman E. Asian Art: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd--Part II. New York: Asia Society, 1975, pp. 13, 21.
Related Document Description: Tarapor, Mahrukh. 'A Note on Chola Bronzes.' Apollo (November 1983), p. 415.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Tokyo: Idemitsu Museum of Arts, 1992, pp. 45, 121.
Related Document Description: Young, Mahonri Sharp. 'Letter from the U.S.A.: The Second Seventy.' Apollo (February 1975), p. 137.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.029
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

AMICA PUBLIC RIGHTS: a) Access to the materials is granted for personal and non-commercial use. b) A full educational license for non-commercial use is available from Cartography Associates at c) Licensed users may continue their examination of additional materials provided by Cartography Associates, and d) commercial rights are available from the rights holder.

Home | Subscribe | Preview | Benefits | About | Help | Contact
Copyright © 2007 Cartography Associates.
All rights reserved.