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

Fig. 6: Shiva Nataraja with his consort Shivakamasundari in the Minakshisundareshvara temple in Madurai
Stone, probably granite
Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
date unknown
210 centimeter (approximately) (there is virtually no pedestal)

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

This Nataraja is situated at the top end of the Thousand Pillars Mandapa in the North-East Corner of the temple complex and faces south.

The murti is placed on a festival platform carried on the back of a cosmic Kurma or tortoise with Dikpalas, Elephants and Nagas placed around the sides. The murti itself has a very low round base. This murti is probably the largest stone Nataraja we have seen. Possibly over 2 meter in height.

The prabha is round with a broad solid body and thinner rims. All are decorated with abstract patterns. The flames are clearly defined and set closely together. The base of the prabha is formed by two makaras with large beaks and tails. The top is formed by another two makaras and several medallions on top of one another, ending in a crowning flame-like shape.

Apasmara lies with its head towards the right. It is a mature male with bulging eyes and a large head-dress. The cobra's body is depicted under the body of Apasmara and raises its head to a great hight, touching the foot of the Nataraja.

On each side of the head three jata spread sideways, falling down. Around the head and on the shoulders are further, shorter locks. The stone between the locks and the shoulders has been cut away. Ganga and Chandra are placed between the jata and the prabha. The head is topped with double fans of feathers with the scull placed in the center. He wears a diadem and the male-and-female earrings.

The damaru is held by a naga wrapped around it. The Nataraja hold the tail of the naga. The flame on the left burns on a small vessel held in the palm of the hand.

The body is worked free from all the surrounding stone, including the part around the standing leg. Only a few struts and some sashes attach the body to the prabha, supporting it.