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Indian Bronze Sculpture at the Art Institute Chicago - Essay Example

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King Shiva Nataraja, Lord of the Dance, embodies the core of Hindu culture and belief that life is all about creation and destruction. The symbolism in this statue, depicts this central idea of life that all others stem from, including the very origin of the dance itself.
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Indian Bronze Sculpture at the Art Institute Chicago
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Download file to see previous pages In that sense, Shiva is also the deity of reproduction. Because of the association with death and anger, Shiva is the most-feared god in Hindu religion and at the same time, is the epitome of love and salvation. Shiva is also the Mahayogi, the greatest ascetic who through his intense meditation breaks the barriers for the river Ganga to flow down to the plains from his abode in Mount Kailash in the Himalayas. His love for his consort, Parvati, is intense and depicts the tense relationship between man and woman (1stholic).
The symbolism in Shiva's physical features depicts the earthly life cycle. The torrent of the Ganga river that Shiva brings about through his meditation flow as Shiva's locks of hair, thereafter transforming into the seven big rivers in the land. Among the physical attributes of Lord Shiva, other than the cobra (symbolizing worldly forces), a skull (implying Shiva as lord of finale) and the mermaid Ganga also find the falcate moon (the container of the holy nectar). Shiva wears two earrings - the right ear has a Linga or male earring and the left ear has a Yoni or female earring. The image, in other words, is androgynous and includes both male and female. Shiva has four arms and two feet, the body carrying strap and ornaments of the classical dancer. Rising out of Apasmara is the "circle of fire" (the Prabha Mandala), namely, the real circle of creation--this observed world where we are placed in. Lastly, the whole image sits on a lotus base, lotus being a symbol of cleanliness growing out of the dim waters of the mysterious (Objectives For Myths, indiana.edu).
Shiva, the lord of the Lingam (or sexuality), the husband of Shakti-Devi (or Parvati), is also Nataraja, King of Dance, who transforms man into a higher level. In Hindu philosophy, dancing is considered as an art form in which the dancer is metamorphosed into a being gifted with extraordinary powers. The dance, like yoga, generates daze, elation, the experience of the celestial, the self- realization ("atmanam biddhi") and, lastly, uniting with the godly spirit. The dance, in Hindu societies, has grown along with the remarkable rigors of the meditation - fasting, breathing exercises, total withdrawal. To work magic upon others, one has to be fascinated oneself and dance is an act of creation, resulting in a new state and taking the dancer to a new and higher persona, stirring dormant energies to mold the world (Zimmer, Philosophies of India).
The typical Nataraj is shown with four hands, two on either side, the upper left hand gripping a flame, the lower left hand indicating down to the devil Muyalaka, or dwarf (Apasmara) symbolizing unawareness, shown to be holding a cobra. The demon is trampled by Shiva's right foot and the other foot is lifted. The upper right hand clutches a drum, the lower one is in the abhaymudra ('be without fear'). The hair is plaited and jeweled, some of his locks reeling as he dances; inside the crinkles of his hair are a coiled cobra, a skull, and the form of Ganga, the Hindu holy river. The whole figure stands on a lotus plinth bordered by a ring of flames, touched by the hands gripping the drum and the fire (Coomaraswamy, 1957).
The dance represents five activities: Shrishti (creation, progress); Sthiti (conservation, maintainence); Samhara (annihilation, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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