Shiva a Hindu god who symbolizes destruction is also referred to as Nataraja, the Hindu god of dancers. The word Nataraja is derived from Nata that refers to dance, raj referring to the lord. The core image of Nataraja is achieved through a canonical form made of bonze that was cast in the Chola dynasty in the mid-tenth century. The image was continuously reproduced in other mediums such as different metals and stone up to the current period. The Chola Nataraja in most cases is referred to as the ultimate representation of the Hindu art.
It is critical to understand that the bronze sculpture of Shiva as the lord of dance is Hindu sacred object that was lifted from its original contexture. There is no concrete information on its venerated initially. The sculpture is currently located in the south Asian gallery of the metropolitan museum of art. Notably is the sculpture on creation was intended to be movable, attributed to its size which is ideal for lifting, unlike other Hindu god which are fairly large. The sculpture comprises a circular sizable circular base that holds it upright. During the 11th century, many Hindu devotees used to carry these sculptures in their prayer processions with their priests chanting prayers that bestowed blessing to the persons gathering. Within the context of the Hindu culture, the sculpture is a representation of divine embodiment. Once a devotee comes before the sculpture for prayer, he or she activates the divine energy that is bestowed on the sculpture by the god it represents in these case, Shiva.
To adequately understand the concept of Nataraja we need to have a concrete understanding of the idea of dance in itself. Just like yoga, the dance presented by the suture is a representation of induction of trance and divine experience. In the India community dance is regards as a gated front to the cosmic world and as such Shiva representation in dance plays a significant depiction of the weight held by a dance in the Hindu culture.
The sculpture depicts the perfect physical attributes as Shiva is frozen in a moment of dance. He is centered in a cosmic fire that is a symbol of continued creation and destruction of aspects of the universe. The sculpture has a ring of fire that surrounds Shiva’s figure represents the encapsulated cosmos of mass, space, and time. These are an endless cycle of regeneration and annihilation. It is tune with the beat played by Shiva’s drum, the Damaru that is held by Shiva by the upper right hand. The drum, Damaru, represents the syncopate act of passage of time and the creative act.
Shiva’s lower right hand is high up and faces the person viewing the sculpture an indication of Abhaya mudra, which means. Do not be afraid, for the persons who follow the righteous path will be bestowed with a great wealth of blessings. Shiva left hand also is placed diagonally across his chest and pointing his foot. The gesture depicts spiritual grace and contentment through meditation. Shiva holds Agni with his upper left hand. In the Hindu culture, Agni is the flame of destruction which in turn removes all the sounds that the damaru had drummer into the cosmic existence. Notable, Shiva’s right foot is placed over a huddled dwarf that represents apasmara who is the symbol of ignorance. Shiva’s hair referred to as the hair of yogi, is streamed across space with a halo of fire that makes up the universe. A key aspect of the sculpture is the tranquil face presented by Shiva amidst the chaotic process and renewal. Art scholar refers to it as the mask of god’s essence of eternality.