Shiva Nataraja accompanied by Parvati, Ganesha and dancing Matrikas, Aihole
Artist: Indian draftsman
Medium: Pen and ink on paper
Pen-and-ink drawing of Shiva as Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance, accompanied by Parvati, Ganesha and the dancing Matrikas, by an Indian draftsman, dated 1853.
This drawing depicts the magnificent sculpture situated in the left-hand vestibule of the Ravana Phadi cave temple at Aihole, dated sixth century AD. It depicts Shiva as Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance who symbolises the cosmic process of repeated successive manifestations of the world and its periodic destruction. The ten-armed god is represented in lalita pose dancing on his raised feet and not, as it is more usual, on the demon Apasmara and the upper hands hold out the snake. The vigour of Shiva's dance expresses rhythm and motion. Flanking Shiva are Parvati, the dancing Matrikas - female deities who symbolize fertility - and the elephant god Ganesha.
Aihole was one of the capitals and an important commercial centre of the Early Western Chalukya, a powerful dynasty which ruled the Deccan from the 6th century. Together with the two other capitals of Badami and Pattadakal, the site has preserved many Hindu and Jain temples which belong to a period that goes from the 6th to the 12th centuries, belonging to the Early and Late Chalukya periods and to the Rashtrakuta era.