The god balances himself with his right bent leg on a dwarf who crouches on a lotus atop a rectangular base.The bent left leg swings across the body in front, hovering in midair. The front left arm too swings across towards the left leg in the gesture known as ‘gajahasta’ or ‘karihasta’ (elephant trunk) with the hand pointing down. The corresponding right hand, positioned just above the left hand, displays the mudra of reassurance. The two other arms stretch out on each side, and hold on the right a small, two-sided drum (damaru) and on the left flames. The chignon holds a small skull and several strands of hair fly on either side. A small figure of Goddess Ganga with folded hands is placed in the right side of the flowing tresses.
The whole composition is circumscribed by an aureole with leaping tongues of flame, contributing effectively towards the dynamism of the image. Flames are a symbol of destruction and the drum symbolizes creation, indicating Shiva is the Supreme God, responsible for both Pralaya and Shrishti. The dwarf of course symbolizes ignorance, which is crushed under the knowledge of Shiva.
This sculpture was created using the ancient wax-casting process in the city of Swamimalai, near Tanjore in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
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