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figure

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1969,1216.1

  • Description

    Śiva Natarāja ('Lord of Cosmic Dance'). Dancing four-armed figure of Śiva in an oval mandorla edged with stylised flames. In his upper right hand the god carries an hourglass-shaped drum, in the left, a blazing flame. The lower hands are free of emblems, the right points to the sky and the other to the deformed dwarfish creature who represents ignorance, crushed beneath his foot. The conspicuous crescent moon on the side of his head symbolizes time. The differently shapes earrings reveal the androgynous nature of the god. Cast in a copper alloy.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 800 (?)
    • 930-940 (circa; ?)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 33.5 centimetres
    • Width: 21.5 centimetres
    • Depth: 10 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    See Srinivasan 2001 for a redating to c. AD 800. Comparative lead isotope analysis has led to this conclusion and the author states "this Nataraja...is Pallava (circa 800) and hence is the earliest known Nataraja image".

    Dallapiccola 2004:
    In recent centuries this image of Shiva Nataraja has become one of the most famous of Hindu India. This image is a visual rendering of the five cosmic activities of a god: creation arises from the drum's sound; protection comes from his raised hand; destruction proceeds from the fire; the raised foot gives salvation and the foot firmly planted on the dwarfish creature gives refuge to the soul enmeshed in the toils of human life.

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  • Bibliography

    • Jones 1990a 14a bibliographic details
    • Srinivasan 2001 p. 60 & plate 5 bibliographic details
    • Dallapiccola 2004 p.57 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2016-2017, 21 Oct-21 Apr, Perth, Australia, Western Australian Museum, “Travellers and Traders in the Indian Ocean World”
    2008 Nov 11-2009 Mar 1, Museum Rietberg, Zurich, 'Shiva Nataraja: The Lord of Dance'

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1969

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1969,1216.1

Siva Nataraja ('Lord of Cosmic Dance'). Dancing four-armed figure of Siva in an oval mandorla edged with stylised flamces, below his foot the dwarf personifying ignorance; cast in a copper alloy.

Siva Nataraja ('Lord of Cosmic Dance'). Dancing four-armed figure of Siva in an oval mandorla edged with stylised flamces, below his foot the dwarf personifying ignorance; cast in a copper alloy.

Image description

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Object reference number: RRI10573

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