Shiva Nataraja, brass, India, late Chola style, 19th century (?).
Gift of Carr P. Collins, Jr., 1976.
This cast and incised brass represents the divine figure of Hindu scripture, Shiva, Lord of the Dance. His sweeping movements within a circle of flame release human souls caught in illusion. He stands, perfectly balanced, upon the demon dwarf Mjyalaka, who is the ignorance that Shiva destroys. In an upper hand Shiva holds a drum to set rhythm in time, while the other bears a tongue of flame which creates and consumes. A lower arm, entwined by a cobra, bestows freedom from fear. The fourth hand gestures toward his foot lifted in dance and the continuing cycle of creation, movement, and dissolution.