Nataraja, the Lord of Dance, represents the essential aspects of Shiva; creation, preservation, destruction, and grace. The dance he performs is the dance of bliss or ananda tandava.
In this image Nataraja has four arms; the rear right hand carries the damaru or drum, symbolic of the primeval sound of creation and the left holds a flame of fire, symbol of destruction. The front right hand is in abhaya-mudra symbolizing protection and the rear left arm crosses his chest to the right and the fingers point to his feet, where Shiva tramples the dwarf demon Apasmarapurusha, or ignorance. The left leg is raised diagonally with the foot in air, denoting the path of salvation. The image of Shiva is encircled by a prabhamandala, like a circle of light.
The matted locks of Shiva is adorned with the figure of river goddess Ganga, a snake, jewels, flowers, a crescent moon and a human skull.