Prof. KD Tripathi, Sanskrit scholar and authority on Natya Shastra, traces the origin of Ankiya Nat to Sangitaka form of theatre dating back to 1st – 2nd century BC.
(‘Srimanta Sankaradeva: Vaishnava Saint of Assam’, Dr. Bimal Phuken, p 70)

The association of the various Gods with dance made it necessary for the sculptor to study the Natyasastra before depicting these deities in stone. This knowledge was one of the main factors that contributed to the refinement of sculpture. The presence of an accomplished nartaki - the dancer - attached to the temple induced the sculptor to create dance sculptures. In turn, such sculptures remain as everlasting guides for successive generations of dance enthusiasts. They served to codify and preserve the art for all time. Among such closely inter-related creations, benefiting each other, the most important is the karanam in the field of dance and sculpture. It is a matter of pride for Tamilnadu that it has been able to preserve in pristine purity the Kashmiriyan sage Bharata’s style of dance in the form of sculpture. Though there are dance sculptures all over India, such close adherence to the Bharata tradition cannot be seen anywhere else.
(‘The Role of Dance Sculptures in Tamilnadu,’ Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam in paper presented at Second International Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies, Chennai, 1968)

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