The Dance of Shiva, in stone

The greatness of the Chola sculptor seems to have brought the Lord of Dance to be confined into the niches of his creation. This magnificent creation in stone in the Tanjore Big Temple…is a splendid work of the artist on his favorite subject…if it was the Shiva Gangadhara or Somaskanda for the Pallava sculpture it was the Nataraja for the Chola artist.

See how the swirling nature of Shiva’s cosmic dance is brought into the composition…the serpent which garlands Shiva has been upset by the speed of the dance movement and it has slipped to his wrist, desperately clinging on to his beloved. The waist cloth too is not spared…its flowing movement beautifully depicts the lords twirling dance… the grace of the lifted feet, the strength of his other leg, the beauty of his upper torso, combined with the divine benevolence of his face…its difficult to put the emotion into words….you are truly spell bound.


“How many various dances of Shiva are known to His worshipers”, says Ananda Coomaraswamy, “I cannot say. No doubt the root idea behind all of these dances is more or less one and the same, the manifestation of primal rhythmic energy.” Continues Coomaraswamy, “Whatever the origins of Shiva’s dance, it became in time the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of.”

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