Shiva as the Lord of Dance

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Shiva as the Lord of Dance

India, Tamil Nadu, circa 950-1000
Sculpture
Copper alloy
30 x 22 1/2 x 7 in. (76.20 x 57.15 x 17.78 cm)
Anonymous gift (M.75.1)
Currently on public view:
Ahmanson Building, floor 4 MAP IT
Ahmanson Building, floor 4

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Curator Notes

Of the three gods of the Hindu trinity - Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Siva the Destroyer and Restorer - Siva was especially popular and widely worshiped in southern India....
Of the three gods of the Hindu trinity - Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Siva the Destroyer and Restorer - Siva was especially popular and widely worshiped in southern India. This figure has an opening in its base that allowed it to be borne in religious processions, typically ornamented and draped In India the art of dance is not only regarded as a form of yoga but is associated with the very act of creation. As lord of yoga, Siva is also the source of the cosmic dance that created the universe in endless rhythmic cycles. The Tamil sculptors of the Chola dynasty (mid-ninth to early fourteenth centuries) realized Siva the Dancer in his most complete and graphic form (Nataraja), one which has become symbolic of Indian civilization. Siva dances in an aureole of flame that rises from a lotus pedestal, symbol of primordial being and creation. The arched aureole and its three-tongued flames represent the universe and its ultimate destruction by fire. In his upper right hand Siva holds the drum representing the primordial sound at the creation of the universe; the second right hand makes a gesture of reassurance. His upper left hand holds the flame of destruction. The lower one points to his left foot, refuge of the soul, and shows the path of salvation through Siva's trampling of the demon that personifies ignorance. Siva's body seems to rise and expand with his aureole. The force of his broad shoulders and proud countenance are echoed by the rhythmic explosion of his locks; among them the small figure of Ganges (left) represents the god's intimate connections with water, the force of life. Perfectly poised, this work manifests Siva's divine unity with compelling grace and majesty.
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Bibliography

  • Donahue, Kenneth. Los Angeles County Museum of Art Handbook. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1977.
  • Kramrisch, Stella.  Manifestations of Shiva.  Philadelphia:  Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1981.
  • Donahue, Kenneth. Los Angeles County Museum of Art Handbook. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1977.
  • Kramrisch, Stella.  Manifestations of Shiva.  Philadelphia:  Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1981.
  • Pal, Pratapaditya. Indian Sculpture, vol.2. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art; University of California Press, 1988.
  • Price, Lorna.  Masterpieces from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  Los Angeles:  Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1988.
  • Langston, Leila A.  Explore the Ancient World.  Ballard & Tighe, 1995.
  • Shapiro, Michael E., ed.  Rings: Five Passions in World Art.  New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1996.
  • Ragans, Rosalind.  Art Talk.  Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 2000.
  • Beckett, Sister Wendy.  Sister Wendy's American Collection, Toby Eady Associates, ed.  Harper Collins Publishers, 2000.
  • Dehejia, Vidya, ed.  The Sensuous and Sacred: Chola Bronzes from the South of India.  New York: American Federation of Arts, 2002.
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  New York: Thames and Hudson, 2003.
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