Shiva as Lord of Dance (Shiva Nataraja)

India, Tamil Nadu

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 251

This form of Shiva combines the god’s roles as creator, preserver, and destroyer of the universe—conveying the Indian concept of the never-ending cycle of time. The energy of Shiva’s dance causes his hair to fly to the sides. Set within a flaming halo, the god holds the fire of destruction and the drum that makes the first sounds of creation. His downward gesture toward his upraised foot alleviates fear and offers refuge. Correspondingly, with his other foot, he tramples a small figure (gana) who embodies humanity and the illusions standing in the way of moksha (transcendence). Such images were taken in processions so to be seen by the public during festivals.

Shiva as Lord of Dance (Shiva Nataraja), Copper alloy, India, Tamil Nadu

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