Bharatanatyam Mudras (Hand Gestures)
We explored Tatta Adavu over the last few posts and this basic Adavu only had leg tapping movements. From the next Adavu, there is use of hand gestures and I thought it is a good time to introduce you to the concept now.
As we understand Bharatanatyam better, we shall see that the whole body is used to express and reach out to the audience. The gestures using one or two hands are an important part of this expression.
Gestures are not new to us since we use them in our day to day activities also! Just take some time and think of what gesture you would use for following situations:
- To call a person
- To point at an object
- To show drinking
- Denote a snake
Obviously, we have used some gesture or the other to express the above. So hand gestures are a basic mode of communication. Gesture is a symbolic action by which a thought, a feeling or intention is expressed.
Nritta hastas are a very integral part of any classical Indian dance. These hastas are more or less common for all the classical dances. In Bharatanatyam, hand gestures are used both in Nritta and Nritya.
In Bharatanatyam, hand gestures are divided into two categories:
Asamyukta Hasta – That which is done with one hand or single hand gestures. They are 28 in number.
Samyukta Hasta – That which is done using both hands or double hand gestures. They are 23 in number.
Each hand gestures has many applications or Viniyogas which are described in Sanskrit Slokas of the natayashastra. For eg. Tripataka used in the Nattu Adavu is used to represent a crown, tree, thunder, applying Tilak etc. The interpretation of the gesture is based on the context in which it is used.
Most of the hand gestures and Viniyogas in Bharatanatyam are described on this site. Please click through the links above. You can also look at the resources page and follow the links for hand gesture details on other sites.