Further to the above posts on the Tigerchess site on one-leg zhanzhuang, here’s an off-tangent to possibly the source of all zhanzhuang, be it one or two-legged; and perhaps even the fount of all martial artforms.
The Siva-Nataraja –amongst the most recognizable of Hindu iconography– is one of the depictions of Lord Shiva, who is one of the three aspects of the Hindu cosmic trimurti.
The symbolism of the Siva-Nataraja or Lord of Dance, are manifold. Suffice to say that Lord Shiva (known as the most powerful and most skilled warrior across the cosmos) holds in this depiction of him as Cosmic Dancer, the power to destroy and create again the world, through his dual dances of the Lasya and the Tandava.
Shiva’s personification as the Hindu warrior-god was the founding inspiration for many Indian martial artforms and which still continues today, with his veneration as being the ‘patron saint’ of their arts.
Shiva is shown in most nataraja statues as balancing on the demon of ignorance. Somehow one gathers that this may probably be a bit harder than finding your balance on solid ground or even shifting sand…
The Nataraj Statue at CERN, Geneva:
In 2004, a 2m statue of the dancing Shiva was unveiled at CERN, the European Center for Research in Particle Physics in Geneva. A special plaque next to the Shiva statue explains the significance of the metaphor of Shiva’s cosmic dance with the quote from Fritjof Capra:
“Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists created visual images of dancing Shivas in a beautiful series of bronzes. In our time, physicists have used the most advanced technology to portray the patterns of the cosmic dance. The metaphor of the cosmic dance thus unifies ancient mythology, religious art and modern physics.”
More quotes from Fritjof Capra, in his The Tao of Physics, relating the Nataraj’s dance with modern physics:
“every subatomic particle not only performs an energy dance, but also is an energy dance; a pulsating process of creation and destruction…without end…For the modern physicists then, Shiva’s dance is the dance of subatomic matter. As in Hindu mythology, it is a continual dance of creation and destruction involving the whole cosmos; the basis of all existence and of all natural phenomena.”