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

Fig. 9: Shiva Nataraja, consort Sivakamasundari and Nandikeshvara in the Thiruthalinathar temple in Tirupattur
Stone, probably granite
Tirupattur, Tamil Nadu, India
Date unknown
160 centimeter without the pedestal, 200 centimeter including pedestal (approximately)

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

The purana of this temple tells how Mahalakshmi wished to witness Shiva's dance. Therefore Shiva manifested his dance here as Gowri Tandava.

The sanctum is situated in the North-East corner of the open prakara. It is open and spacious. The Nataraja accompanied by Sivakamasundari and Nandi is placed upon a raised platform. Patanjali and Vyaghrapada are present. This murti is painted with its details clearly represented.

The murti with its pedestal is around 2 meter in height. The base is rectangular with traditional moldings. The murti by itself is around 1.60 meter high.

The prabha is oval with (relatively) small makaras at its base. It has a broad body and decorated rims. It is decorated with gem shapes and other designs. The flames have seven tongues, are carved individually and spaced wide. One flame seems to be missing. The top-most flame is slightly larger.

The Apasmara lies with its head to the right. It is a mature man with moustache and a diadem. In its left hand and under its left foot it holds a cobra which is relatively small and does not raise its head.

There are 3 jata on the left and 4 on the right and they spread sideways and curl up at the end. Small flowers fill the spaces between the jata. Ganga and the Moon are positioned in the middle of the jata on respectively the (proper) right and left. Because of the painting it can be understood that the hairdress consists of several fan shaped layers with a skull positioned in the center. It touches the prabha. The highest layers are bluish grey with white tips. The other layers are different in color. The datura flower is positioned on the right side of the head. Another unknown decoration is found on the left in the form of a light round shape.

This Nataraja has ten arms in which he holds ten different attributes. On the proper right from top to bottom: damaru (with a cobra wrapped around its body), arrow, sword, pasa (noose), trisula (in the front hand). Proper left: flame (on a vessel), bow, shield, ankusa, gajahasta.

A small cobra supports the hanging gajahasta. This Nataraja is largely free from the stone, even the space around its standing right leg.