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Asian art has become increasingly popular in recent years, and one type of art that has become especially popular is Hindu statuary.  One of the most interesting of these is the figure of Natraj, which is one of the many names of Shiva, one of the three major deities in the Hindu religion.  While Shiva is often described as "the destroyer”, he is also instrumental in the creation of new life and in resurrection.  When Shiva assumes the form of Natraj, he is performing a dance that is said to have several different functions. 

The figure of Natraj is often shown dancing enclosed in a burning circle.  The burning circle represents the cosmic energy Natraj creates and channels.  His energy and enthusiasm are said to destroy the old and create new life.  His dance is said to represent the energy and life cycle of the universe.  Additionally, it is said that Shiva's dancing (as Natraj) is the energy that keeps the universe running, and that if he ever stops dancing the universe will cease to exist.  He is also often represented as standing on top of a demon, to show that he has the power to conquer evil and spiritual ignorance. 

Hinduism is one of the most dominant forms of religion in India.  Often thought of as polytheistic because of the many different gods, Hinduism is in fact based on a coherent set of beliefs and values.  Most Hindus worship one of the "big three" - Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), or Shiva, and each of these deities has their own separate forms, as well as favorite companions.  According to Hindu mythology, Shiva has had many different experiences with the other Hindu Gods, including marrying Sati, the granddaughter of Brahma and fathering the Hindu deities Ganesa (also known as Ganesh) and Kartikeya. 

Dancing is just one of the many energetic activities associated with Shiva, and the form of Natraj is considered the definitive image of Shiva's dancing.  Natraj is sometimes known as the "Cosmic dancer”, because his dancing represents all the joys of creation, death, and rebirth.  Natraj is also known as Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance, and there are many temples dedicated to this figure throughout the Hindu world. 

Brass statues of Natraj come in many different shapes and sizes, and can make an excellent accent piece for any Asian art collection.  It can also be used as a meditation focal point, an object for you to look at as you contemplate the world's many different energies.  Many Hindus value statues of Natraj because they can be placed on a personal altar and used for prayer and contemplation.  In addition, the statue itself is thought to bring some of the life energy of Natraj into the person's home.

 

The Great Wall of China The Forbidden City
The Terracotta Army Along the Silk Road
 
Brass Natraj
Gold Leaf Painted ~ 10 Inch Turnip Vase
Gold Leaf Lacquer
Pair of 10 Inch Closionne Vases
Cloisonne
Pair of Brass Foo Dogs
Brass & Bronze
Inside Painted Boxes
 
 

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