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Title

Shiva Nataraja (Lord of the Dance): Gallery Label - Current

Author

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Date

2013-08-12

Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
This bronze depicts Shiva as Nataraja, or Lord of the Dance. He holds fire in his upper left hand, with which he destroys the world at the end of each cosmic cycle. A drum in his upper right hand produces a sound that creates the world anew. His left leg lifts gracefully in a dance posture, as he unites the creative and destructive elements forming the universe. A large, now missing, flame adorned metal ring would have encircled the icon, emphasizing Shiva’s fluid union of opposite forces. The current installation alludes to the Nataraja’s former residence in the central sanctum of a Shiva temple. Its walls would have been dark and unornamented, in stark contrast to the elaborately carved stone temple exterior. The video behind the sculpture shows some of these facades, along with the musical accompaniment of traditional south Indian instruments, evoking the religious pilgrim’s sensory experience when encountering the divine. The devotee’s chief objective in visiting the temple is to “see” the god through religious ritual. In exchange for a donation, the Brahmin priest performs a ceremony that summons the god into the icon. In this structured exchange, the god looks out and beholds the devotee, who in turn looks back at him in a reciprocal exchange of gazes and prayer.
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Source: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Rights: Copyright Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Added to Site: March 10, 2009