Shiva Nataraja is depicted to provide his music as he holds a small drum, the damaru, in his upper right hand, which not only provides rhythm but also reiterates that it made the first sounds of creation. The beat of the drum is also considered to provide the heartbeat of the cosmos, the Maya. Shiva's upper left-hand holds the Agni, the divine fire, which can destroy the universe. Shiva's lower right-hand makes the Abhaya mudra gesture of blessing, which calms all fear, and the lower-left arm sweeps across his torso with the hand pointing to his left foot in the gesture of gajahasta, the symbol of salvation and liberation. Shiva's right foot is shown stamping on the dwarf figure ApasmaraPurusha, who holds a cobra and who represents illusion and ignorance, leading humanity away from the truth. Shiva's locks contain a skull, a datura blossom, and a crescent moon. More prominent is the figure of Ganga, the goddess of the river Ganges, on Shiva Nataraja's locks.
Shiva Nataraja wears only a short dhoti, which is tied around his waist with a sash. The two ends of the sash billow to the god's dancing movement and reach out to join the ring of fire.