Nataraja's Earring

Srini Pichumani srini_pichumani at MENTORG.COM
Tue Dec 8 19:00:38 UTC 1998

As regards Nataraja's earring(s),  here is what Kamil Zvelebil says in
his recent monograph "Ananda tANDava of S'iva-sadAnrttamUrti"  :

"The difference of the two earrings is of course of utmost
iconographic-iconologic importance:  the fact that one earring is the
patrakuNDala,  i.e. the twisted golden palm leaf in the left ear-lobe as
worn by village belles,  whereas the other earring is the
makarakuNDala,  i.e. the man's ornamental earring in the shape of a
crocodile,  this fact symbolizes the unity of the male and the female,
the dual nature of the Lord,  the ardhanArIs'vara concept."

In the footnotes to patrakuNDala,  he says "other name:  karNapatra,
Ta. Olia".

In the next footnote,  he says "Sometimes,  the right earlobe of
naTarAja remains free of ornament."

Harsha V. Dehejia wrote:

> Nataraja wears a female earring in his left ear (kundala) while his
> right ear, though pierced, is bare. One can explain this by child like
> stories which say that his right earring fell off while dancing. The
> truth of the matter is that Nataraja is an ardhanirshvara and
> therefore must express his feminine aspect.  This is stylised by the
> kundala. Nataraja cannot be in a state of ananda (bliss) without a
> dynamic harmony of purusha and prakriti, Shiva and Parvati, male and
> female. This is the foundational doctrine of Kashmir Shaivism.

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