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Sculpture from the Kushan Period
Sculpture from North India, 5th-7th Centuries
Jain sculpture
Sculpture of the Pala Period
Stone Sculpture from Hindu Temples
Sculptures from South India, 8th-9th Centuries
Bronze Sculpture of the Chola Period
Art for the Mughal and Rajput Courts
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Buddhist Painting from India, Nepal, and Tibet
Buddhist Painting from India, Nepal, and Tibet
Sculpture from Nepal
Sculpture from the Kushan Period
Two Bodhisattvas from Sri Lanka
Shiva as Lord of the Dance (Shiva Nataraja)
India, Tamil Nadu; Chola period (880-1279), 12th century
Copper alloy
H. 29 1/4 in. (74.3 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
The Hindu god Shiva Nataraja's limbs, hair, and sashes fan outward from his torso like spokes in a wheel, with the center at his navel. This complex pose shows the perfect control Shiva possesses as he destroys the universe with fire held in his upper left hand and recreates the universe in a dance to the beat of a drum held in his upper right hand. Shiva's two lower hands show the salvation that is inherent in his dance: his lower right hand is held in the gesture of reassurance and his lower left hand points to his lifted foot to signify that his activities are intended to provide deliverance for the worshipper. Shiva Nataraja may have been an emblem for kingly aspirations as his dancing posture evokes the successful warrior, a role that was one of the Chola kings' highest ideals.
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