Nataraja's Earring

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 8 21:40:21 UTC 1998

Zvelebil, the pioneer Dravidianist, writes the Tamil term, "Olai".
"Olai" and "tOTu" are Tamil terms for leaf, the Samskrit `patra`.

Female earrings were initially made by rolling plant leaves.
Hence, female earrings are called "Olai" or "tOTu"
in Tamil.

Tevaram, the Saivaite collection of thousands of songs
written in 7th century AD starts by calling 'Siva
as He who wears female earrings.

Pallava, Pandya and Chola NaTarAjas sport "Olai"
or "tOTu" in His left ear all the time.

N. Ganesan

In shopping malls, American youth, like NaTarAja,  wear
female earring in left ears. Is it due to an invasion
of Tamils/Dravidians or a material borrowing
or a mere coincidence ?? :-)

Mr. S. Pichumani quotes:
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."

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