In five of his eight hands he holds a noose, mace, drum, cobra and trident. The trident represents the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. It is also said to represent the threefold qualities of nature: creation, preservation and destruction. He holds a cobra symbolizing the power he has over the most deadly of creatures. Snakes are also used to symbolize the Hindu dogma of reincarnation. The drum represents the rhythmic sound to which Shiva dances and ceaselessly recreates the universe.
The front left hand is in the abhaya-mudra, the "fear not" gesture, made by holding the palm outward with fingers pointing up. The front right arm is across the chest in the gahahasta (elephant trunk) pose, with the wrist limp and the fingers pointed downward toward the demon Apasmara.