Friday, June 4, 2021

Ananda Tandava Of Nataraja - 8

How Artists have viewed The Dancing Figure of Naṭarāja

 It may be desirable to see how modern artists or art historians have viewed the image of Naṭarāja. We sample here the opinions of a sculptor, an archeologist, and an art historian of recent times have perceived the image. The samples can be said to provide the views of a cross-section of people related to art, as they are from different countries – from France, from India, and from Scotland.

The French sculptor, Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), described the dancing Śiva of Chidambaram, which he compared to the famed Medici Venus, as '…Indeed their gesture can compare in gracefulness and elegance…'. (Refer  Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature, Ed. Amaresh Datta, Volume 1, p 848, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi 1987). Sharada Srinivasan (b. 1966, specializing in the scientific study of art, archaeology, archaemetallurgy and culture) notes that the 'Time magazine prophetically featured it [Naṭarāja] as a symbol of a changing India on its cover.' (Refer India International Centre Quarterly, Volume 34, Number 2, Autumn 2007 issue). William Dalrymple (b. 1965, historian, art historian, and critic) speaks of Naṭarāja as the 'ultimate Chola icon … [endowed with] both a raw sensual power and a profound theological message.' (same issue). He adds, 'while the Gods of Thebes and the Parthenon have both been dead and forgotten for millennia, the Gods and temples of Hindu India are still as alive and active as ever', speaking admiringly of 'the astonishing antiquity, and continuity, of Hinduism'. (W. Dalrymple, Age of Kali:Indian Travels and Encounters, Lonely Planet Publications, 2000, p.193). (It is a different matter that the last author has earned some notoriety in recent times).