Shiva as King of Dancers (Nataraja) (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

mid-12th century
copper alloy
India,Thanjavur (Tanjore) District, Tamil Nadu
Overall: 38 5/8 × 28 × 12 in. (98.11 × 71.12 × 30.48 cm)
Not on view
Dynamically posed, with long locks flying wildly, Shiva performs the cosmic dance that creates, sustains, and destroys the universe - again and again. The drum in his upper right hand represents sound, the prime element that signals creation and thebeginning of time. The flickering flame originally held in his upper left hand symbolizes the great fire that will engulf the universe at the end of time. Encircled by a ring of flames, Shiva tramples the demon of ignorant forgetfulness. The devotee who comprehends the cosmic meaning of the Great God's dance will overcome ignorance and attain salvation.
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
1966-1968 "The Arts of India and Nepal: The Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection", Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, November 21, 1966 - January 8, 1967; Los Angeles County Museum, CA, February 8 - April 2, 1967; Detroit Institute of Arts, MI, June 20 - August 6, 1967; VMFA, September 18 - October 14, 1967; Royal Ontario Museum, January 22 - March 10, 1968

1964 "Art of India and Southeast Asia", Krannert Art Museum, Chanpaign, IL, May 17 - June 14, 1964
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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