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 Museum Explorer

Gods and spirits in Asia

The Lord of the Dance

Height: 89.500 cm

Asia OA 1987.3-14.1

The lord of the dance

From: Tamil Nadu, southern India
Date: around AD 1100

According to the Hindu story, Ganga was the goddess of the river Ganges, India's most holy river. Ganga was ordered to leave heaven and was so angry that she threatened to flood the whole world. Fortunately the god Shiva came to the rescue by catching Ganga in his flowing locks of hair. After that, Ganga lived in Shiva's hair as his second wife.

In this beautiful sculpture Shiva appears as Nataraja, the lord of the dance. He is dancing in a circle of flames, and his long hair is flying out on either side of his head. Can you find the tiny figure of Ganga nestling there?