|19 x 24 x 6 cm
|Nataraja Statues With Fire Ring
|Country of Origin
|Made in India
Shiva, as many other important Hindu gods, is a complex character with a myriad of traits, sometimes seemingly in conflict with each other. Accordingly, in his guise as Nataraja he is represented in his triple role as Creator, Preserver and Destroyer. Shiva as a dancing figure first appeared in Indian stone temple sculpture in the 5th and 6th century CE, and it was not until the 10th century CE that the now familiar free-standing sculptural representation, typically in bronze, became standard. In this remarkably standardized form, the god is shown dancing within a flaming halo (prabha mandala) which represents Time and which is shown as a circle to symbolize the Hindu belief that it is both cyclical and without end. The flames of the ring sprout from the mouths of makaras or mythical sea creatures shown at the base of the sculpture. The ring is more arch-like in the first bronze sculptures, as can be seen in one of the earliest surviving, the c. 875 CE sculpture within the Shiva temple at Nallur near Tanjavur. Eventually, though, a perfect circle becomes the norm.