masthead logo
email webmanager facebook | twitter | google+ | flickr | contacts | 


, Shiva as Lord of the Dance [Nataraja] REDUCE 1/2

  1. 171994.jpg 1/2
  2. 171994_Back.jpg 2/2

Chola dynasty (9th-13th centuries) India
Shiva as Lord of the Dance [Nataraja] 11th-12th century bronze lost-wax casting
128.5 h x 106.0 w x 40.0 d cm
Purchased with the assistance of the National Gallery of Australia Foundation 2008
Accession No: NGA 2008.1

  • Currently not on display

    Shiva as Lord of the Dance is probably the best-known sculptural image in Indian art. The powerful Hindu god Shiva appears encircled by flames, representing the boundaries of the cosmos, as he performs his dance of destruction and creation. The iconography for this popular depiction developed early in the Chola period (ninth to thirteenth centuries) in south India. It was during that time, under the patronage of the rulers of today’s Tamil Nadu, that bronze casting reached its pinnacle for temple and shrine.

    The graceful elegance and delicate intricacy of this sculpture is matched by the striking animation of the dancing figure. Locks of hair and waist sash flying, Shiva beats the rhythm of creation on the drum in his upper right hand. His raised left leg symbolises the potential for liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth. During this dance of bliss, Shiva’s right foot quashes darkness and ignorance in the form of a demonic dwarf. The swaying hood of a snake can be seen wrapped around one of the god’s right arms, while another serpent appears in his tresses on the left. Opposite, the upper torso of the river goddess Ganga (Ganges) nestles in his matted hair which, in dance, has been likened to the spray of the sacred river.

    Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, NGA Publishing, Canberra, 2008

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

  • Currently not on display

    Encircled by flames representing the boundaries of the cosmos, the powerful Hindu god Shiva is shown here performing his dance of creation and destruction. The iconography of this quintessential image of Shiva developed during the reign of the Chola kings, when this sculpture was cast. Each element is rich in symbolism. The sound of creation is beaten on the drum in his upper right hand, while the upper left holds the flame of destruction.

    Shiva’s dance takes place at the centre of the universe in the presence of the gods. The four-armed god’s vigorous movement is suggested by the sash twisting around his body and the fanning out of his matted hair. A small figure of Ganga, the river goddess, appears in his locks.


    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
    From: Asian gallery extended display label