Dancing Diety

For a long time I have had a vast interest in a small sculpture located in my parent's entryway.This sculpture is a figure with four arms, stands on one leg atop what appears to be a baby, and wears a funny looking headdress of some sort.For years I've wondered why this little man had four arms, stood in such an uncomfortable-looking fashion, and what meaning he has.Finally, my wonder has turned to insight, as a course I took in college, Art History, has suddenly shown me the light.
Thefirst real picture that I saw of this funny little guy, Nataraja, was in our textbook where I learned he is a god adopted by the ancient Indian imperial Cholas.We were then assigned a visit to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts where I had myfirst look at an original sculpture of the dancing god. The piece is named Shiva Nataraja (Lord of the Dance).It is an archetypal sculpture made in the late tenth century by an unknown artist and was found in a temple near Pondicherry, India.The sculpture my parents have is a cast metal one with a very dull gray luster, about six inches high.You can tell with close examination that this was most likely one of many made from the same cast and sold as a souvenir type item.The one at the museum was quite different as it is made from bronze with a much smoother appearance and stands about twenty-eight inches high.Aligning the nose, naval, and weight bearing foot, the central axis of the figure maintains his center of balance and equilibrium, while his arms extend asymmetrically to each side.The smaller figure at my parent's is much more flat, and looks as if he is struggling to stand on his one leg.The one at the museum is much more three-dimensional, and looks much more relaxed.
Atfirst glance of this graceful dancing deity, myfirst reaction was one of awe.The fact that the piece is very old and is still fully intact is amazing in itself.Also, I didn't think …


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