South India, Chola Period, 11th century / Shiva Nataraja: Lord of the Dance / 11th centurySouth India, Chola Period, 11th century
Shiva Nataraja: Lord of the Dance
11th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Dates/Places: South India
Creator Active Place: South India
Creator Name-CRT: South India, Chola Period, 11th century
Title: Shiva Nataraja: Lord of the Dance
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1000
Creation End Date: 1099
Creation Date: 11th century
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: copper
Dimensions: Overall: 111.5cm x 101.65cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1930.331
Credit Line: Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund
Context: Shiva (the destroyer) shares the divine trinity of Hinduism with Brahma (the creator) and Vishnu (the preserver). At the end of each kalpa (cycle) the world goes through, according to Hindu eschatology, it is destroyed and procreated (as is the case with individual beings who are reborn). In the iconography of Nataraja, he is a supreme deity who at once destroys and procreates the universe. His dance signifies the passage of Time (kala) and embodies Shiva's five-fold activities involved in the process of creation. The drum (damaru), held in his upper right hand, the source of sound vibrating within space, is symbolic of creation. The "fear-not" gesture (abhaya hasta), expressed by his other right hand, offers protection to his subjects. The flame (agni)held in the palm of his upper left hand, identical to the flames encircling the mandorla within which he dances, symbolizes the world's destruction--but with the promise of procreation. The second left arm, crossing the body and pointing down to his aloftleft foot (gaja hasta), refers to the illusionistic character of this world, while the foot symbolizes the final release, promising salvation of the soul. The dwarf upon whom he tramples in his dance signifies the destruction of evil. Bronzes produced inSouth India during the Chola period are among some of the most accomplished metal sculptures ever made in India, as well as worldwide. The extant images of Shiva are particularly notable for their large size, tensile strength, and vigorous sense of movement. This Nataraja represents an earlier Chola style, possibly made during the reign of the Rajaraja the Great, who was the builder of the famous Brihadeshvara Temple in Tanjor around AD 1000, the period that produced some of the greatest Chola bronzes. S.C.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1930.331
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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