The Soulful Bells of Noopura

A deep appreciation for the classical dancers and an ode to the “Nataraja: the Cosmic Dancer.”
He has chains of small ringing bells decorated at his ankles, thighs, waist and wrists etc., producing lilting sounds.

The Cosmic Dance

His Cosmic Dance in its totality is called Pancha Kriya Shakti namely,  srishti – creation; sthithi – maintenance; samhaara – destruction; tirobhaava – illusive; and anugraha – blessing. The five elements of creation, prithvi, aapa, teja, vaayu, aakaasha or solidity, liquidity, fire, ether, and air are the essential elements for the formation of any being to make the functioning of five sensory organs to work, either living or material.

In the depiction, a ring of flames always surrounds Nataraja. The circle is the symbol of the cosmos because when anything moves, the most natural form occurring in existence is a circle. The planets, the moon, and the sun are all circles, which is why the circle around Nataraja symbolizes the cosmos, and Noopura comes in a circular form.

Devotion and Rhythm in classical dance

The concept of jewellery is an ancient one which is evident from the excavation samples of ancient civilization. The Bronze age has produced some beautiful jewellery and metal bells have been a part of those since early times. The Noopura platter is also a tribute to the classical dancers where their ankle bells are not only adorned as an ornament but also capture the essence of their heavy foot movement and enhance the appreciation of the rhythm.

Indian dances often involve heavy foot movements along with other body movements. It is easy to notice and appreciate the abhinaya (expression) and the movement of the eyes, torso and limbs of a dancer—but it might not be so easy to follow footwork. The footwork actually constitutes individual and complex movements of the ankles, toes, heels, knees and thighs with the intricacies of the rhythm. The performance banks heavily on the footwork of the dancer. Herein lies the significance of Ghungroo in dance. Ghungroo complements the heavy foot movements. It accentuates and embellishes the footwork, augmenting the movements or expressions of the dancer and making the audience listen to the complex footwork.

“Noopura affirms that there is grace in elegance, but beyond grace there is perfection.”

Noopura is wheelthrown, gas fired with Shino glaze to 1300°C, print-transferred and delicately slip trailed. Each Noopur/Ghunghroo/Bell on the rim is wheelthrown and hand-carved and precisely attached to the rim, glazed in 24K gold lustre fired to 780°C to depict the resonance and rhythm of music and movement. The colours are carefully chosen to be in unison with the five elements – earth: brown, water: blue, metal: gold, fire: red, and air: grey.

Mona Malhotra

Hailing from India, the impact of cultural diversity has always acted as a seedling to my thoughts and I try to find resemblances in different cultures. Thus, amalgamating my creations with my travel experiences. I have explored and incorporated those beliefs in my work. I take pleasure in depicting the intricacies and the pleasant outcomes of the complexity in everyday's life through the crudity of clay transforming into an exquisite masterpiece. The connection from Earth to Clay to Mankind amuses me to bring out my forms and connect to them. I am inspired by the balance in nature choreographed by mother earth in the various forms of existence and their connection to each other.
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