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Shiva's Dance in Stone:
Ananda Tandava, Bhujangalalita, Bhujangatrasa

Fig. 5: Shiva Nataraja, Sandana Sabhapati, in the Nellaiyappar temple in Thirunelveli
Stone, probably granite
Thirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India
date unknown
170 centimeter without the pedestal, 200 centimeter including the pedestal (approximately)

February 2012 by Liesbeth Pankaja Bennink, Kandhan Raja Deekshithar, Jayakumar Raja Deekshithar, Shankar Raja Deekshithar.

This Nataraja is situated in a spacious room behind the famous Copper Sabha in the North-East corner of the second prakara of the Nelveli temple. He is accompanied by Sivakamasundari, the saints Patanjali and Vyaghrapada, as well as several other minor murtis. Here too the Nataraja is covered with sandal paste making distinguishing details difficult. With kumkuma and soot the features of the face have been illustrated over the sandal paste.

The murti is easily over 2 meter high, including the pedestal. The Nataraja by itself could be well over 1.60 in height.

The pedestal is rectangular with light moldings. It is placed on a low rectangular or square base.

The prabha is round and has a very elaborate and heavy base. This base probably consists of makaras but because of the sandal paste this cannot be verified. The body of the prabha consists of several rims. There are no clearly distinguishable flames. At the top of the prabha there are also two makaras from whose mouth the prabha appears. In-between is a kind of medallion crowned by a large flame.

The Apasmara lies with its head towards the right. A naga rises from the hands of the Apasmara to the dancing foot of the Nataraja.

The jata spread out from the head in a downward wave. The decoration on the sandal paste indicates there are three jata on each side. These jata connect to the prabha. Between the jata and the shoulders struts have been left for support. There may also be tresses falling onto the shoulders. Above the head a fan-shaped head-dress is apparent. Due to the sandal paste no details can be distinguished.

The body of the Nataraja is largely free, except for some supports in the form of sashes and struts.