Friday, August 13, 2021

Ananda Tandava Of Nataraja - 18

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The Interpretation of Zvelebil

For Zvelebil, the figure presents a well-defined, almost rigorously conventionalized, mode of Naṭarāja's dance, which 'to a great extent suppressed all other manners of Śiva's dance and usurped for itself—legitimately so—the right to be the representative mode of the mystical dance of the Divine Dancer.' (K. V. Zvelebil, Ānanda-tāṇḍava of Śiva-Sadānṛttamūrti, Madras: Institute of Asian Studies, 1985, p.12).

The most important and characteristic mark of Ānanda-tāṇḍava, according to Zvelebil, is 'the left leg lifted and bent (kuñcita), with the simultaneous twist of the left hip to the front.' (ibid., p.17). For this has to do, for him, with the historical development of sculptural representation. Zvelebil's primary concern is to 'trace the evolutionary steps' of this icon, the Ānanda-tāṇḍavamūrti. The iconographic significance of the peacock feathers adorning the jaṭā ("matted hair") is that it combines the Kirāta-mūrti  (= a gracious aspect of Śiva as a hunter), with the Naṭarāja-mūrti (=Śiva as a dancer; mūrti=form). (ibid., p34). Like Zimmer, Zvelebil emphasises the juxtaposition of opposites; he notes 'the principle of contrast in art exemplified by the hideous grinning skull [kapāla] set close to the charming mermaid, the Gaṅgā.' (ibid., p.34). Again, the two types of kuṇḍala (="jewel earrings") on the different ears indicate the masculine and feminine aspects.

           Zvelebil continues to remark of the crescent moon on the crest as 'above all, a symbol of beauty'. (ibid., p.34). The third eye, vertically placed on his forehead, adds charm to his face, like a tilaka on the forehead of Indian women. The three eyes represent the Sun, the Moon and Agni, sometimes called muttī in Tamil ("threefold fire"). He observes with Sivaramamurti the way that 'the wavy line of the jaṭā is wonderfully matched by the undulating form of the snake,' remarking on how this is then reinforced by the fact that 'the curls of the god's hair have snakes entwined in them'. (ibid., p.34).