The Shiva Dance

danza di shiva
The God Shiva in his manifestation as “Nataraja”, the “Lord of Dance” (South India, Chola period, 888-1267 d.C. From  Clarke, M. e C. Crisp, The History of Dance, Crown Publications, New York 1981).

In the Olympus of Hindu deities, Shiva represents the creative and destructive force. These aspects are emphasized in his dance thanks to which, according to myth, the cosmos is drawn from the primitive chaos and led to creation. It’s dance that generates the circle of creative energy. The god dances with the right foot on the demon’s head, to show the defeat of evil. Of the four arms, which point to the four directions of space, two support the attributes of divinity: the drum, which represents the sound and the rhythm impressed to the process of creation; the flaming tongue which represents the destructive fury. The other arms and the hands are engaged in communicating to the believer not to be afraid, as the god is always present beside him. The lifted foot shows relief.
If Shiva is the cosmic actor and dancer, the whole universe is nothing but the image of Shiva’s gestures and actions. The importance of gestural expressiveness, in prehistory as well as in the archaic world, can be deducted also by the role it takes in the process of formation of the most ancient forms of writing. According to philologist Tciang Tceng Ming, many of the marks used in the most archaic developing phases of Chinese writing do not represent directly natural objects, but they are schematic reproductions of the gestures used to describe those objects. The study by  Cushing on the Zuni’s sign language (Manual Concepts. A Study of the Influence of Hand-Usage on Culture-Growth, 1892) has shown that the way of shaping the thoughts of this community (like many others) of native Americans, was conditioned by their way of gestural expression, just like we westerners are unable to formulate a thought in our minds without mentally articulating the words (Fano, Origini della scrittura e del linguaggio [Origins of Writing and of Language], Einaudi 1973).

Autore: Gaudenzio Ragazzi

(English). My name is Gaudenzio Ragazzi, a long time ago I graduated in Philosophy with a master in History of Theater. To realize my thesis on the "origins of dance", a theme that still today boasts only two or three specialized researchers in the world, I became a scholar of Prehistoric Iconography. In the last thirty years I have not been able to escape the responsibilities of life. So, after the death of my father, I led the family artisan company that produces tailored shirts. A few years ago I decided that it was time to resume my studies and complete the research I had started as a young man (that nobody else had yet completed). Good luck Gaudenzio! Mi chiamo Gaudenzio Ragazzi, molto tempo fa ho conseguito la laurea in Filosofia con specializzazione in Storia del Teatro. Sono diventato uno studioso di Iconografia Preistorica per realizzare la mia tesi di laurea sulle "origini della danza", argomento che ancora oggi vanta nel mondo solo due o tre studiosi di una certa levatura. Negli ultimi trent'anni non ho potuto sottrarmi alle responsabilità della vita. Così, dopo la morte di mio padre, ho guidato l'azienda artigiana di famiglia che produce camicie su misura. Alcuni anni fa ho deciso che era arrivato il momento di riprendere i miei studi e di fare da vecchio quello che non ho potuto fare da giovane (e che nessun altro nel frattempo aveva completato). Buon lavoro Gaudenzio !


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