Nataraja and cosmic space: Nature and culture intertwinings in the early Tamil tradition

Publication Type:

Book Chapters


Nature and Culture, PHISPC and CSC, Volume XIV Part I, New Delhi, p.271–288 (2011)



One of Hinduism's globally admired icons is the Chola bronze of Siva Nataraja, or, 'king of dance', which is more popularly described as the 'Cosmic Dance of Siva' drawing from the writings of Ananda Coomaraswamy and writers with a scientific background such as Fritjof Capra and Carl Sagan. This icon presents an intriguing case study in exploring facets of the inter-relationships between nature, art and culture. This paper attempts to contextualise such developments related to this icon against the background of the metaphorical concepts and aspects of Tamil poetry which deal with nature, geography and space in relation to cultural and artistic concepts.