Dating the Nataraja dance icon: Technical insights

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


Marg-A Magazine of the Arts, The Marg Foundation, Volume 52, Number 4, p.54–69 (2001)



From a study of the metal technology of south Indian ?pancha-loha? icons, using finger-printing methods such as lead isotope analysis, the chronology of the celebrated Nataraja bronze of Shiva as cosmic dancer is reviewed. Tracing its emergence to the Pallavas, circa 8th century, its artistic development is explored with respect to issues such as the coeval rise of its worship at Chidambaram, patronage by Chola queens and dance iconography in stone and bronze. The prescience behind the concepts of Nataraja and Chidambaram, which appeal to the scientific temper, is reflected upon.


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