According to Natyashastra , a dancer expresses through Angikam (body), Vachikam (words), Sattvikam(emotions) and Ahaaryam(costume). The most striking feature of Bharatanatyam is the use of hand gestures – Hasthas, (in the Angikabhinaya). It is of great importance both in the enactment of Abhinaya (Expressing emotions) and in Nritta (pure dance gestures)
As per Natyashastra , Hastas are broadly categorised as:
- Asamyukta/Asamyuta Hastas or Single handed Gestures
- Samyukta/Samyuta Hastas or Two Handed Gestures.
Each of the hastas can be used to denote various thoughts, ideas and objects.
Asamyukta Hasta Slokam
Pathakas Tripathako Ardhapathakas Kartharimukhaha ! Mayoorakhyo Ardhachandrascha Araala Shukathundakaha !!
Mushtischa Shikharakhyascha Kapitha Katakhamukhaha! Suchi Chandrakhala Padmakosha Sarparhirasthathaa!!
Mrigashirsha Simhamukhaha Kaangoolascha Alapadmakaha! Chaturo Bhramaraschaiva Hamsasyo Hamsapakshakaha!!
Samdamsho Mukulaschaiva Thaamrachoodas Trisoolakaha! Ithyaasamyukta Hastanam Ashtavimshatireerita!!
|Hasta||Meaning||How to do||Image.|
|Pathakam||Flag||Pathakam is done with all fingers held straight with thumb bent. There should be no gap between the fingers.|
|Tripathakam||3 parts of a flag||Bend the ring finger after doing the Pathakam|
|Ardhapathakam||Half flag||It is done by bending the little finger after doing the Tripataka.|
|Kartarimukham||Scissors||Mudra is done with the little finger and the ring finger is bent and pressed against the thumb. While the index finger and the middle finger is stretched to show a scissor.|
|Mayuram||Peacock||The ring finger and the tip of the thumb touch each other while the other fingers are held straight without any gap.|
|Ardhachandran||Half Moon||All the finger are held straight and together except the thumb finger which is held apart.|
|Aralam||Petal/ Bent||It is done when the Index finger is bent while doing the Pataka Mudra.|
|Shukathundam||Parrot’s beak||When the Ring finger of the Arala mudra is bent we get Shukatunda Hasta.|
|Mushti||Fist||When the four fingers are pressed closely against the palm while the thumb is held tightly between the palm and the other four fingers.|
|Shikaram||The pinnacle/ top||Here all the fingers are bent and pressed against the Palm except the thumb. The thumb is raised and held erect. (thumbs-up Sign)|
|Kapitam||Wood apple||While doing Shikhara mudra bend the index finger and press it over the thumb|
|Katakamukham||Bracelet||Katakamukha means “Opening in a Bracelet”. Its done by bringing together the index finger, middle finger and the thumb. The ring finger and the little finger are raised at angles as in the video.|
|Soochi||Needle||The middle finger, ring finger and little finger is pressed against the thumb while the forefinger is held straight.|
|Chandrakala||Digit of the moon||Chandrakala means digit of the Moon. Release the thumb in Suchi Mudra and hold it straight|
|Padmakosam||Lotus Bud||All the fingers are stretched and slightly brought closer to each other.|
|Sarpasirsham||Hood of Cobra||Hand is held in Pataka Mudra and the fingers are bend from the tip.|
|Mrigaseerisham||Deer’s head||Fingers are bent from the knuckles except for the little finger and the thumb which is held straight|
|Simhamukham||Lion’s face||The middle finger and the ring finger press against the thumb while the other fingers are held straight|
|Kangulam||Bud||The middle and the forefingers and the thumb to be separated and the ring finger to be bent|
with the little finger raised.
|Alapadmam||Fully bloomed lotus||All fingers turned towards the palm, standing on its side and separated from one another.|
|Chaturam||4 sides of square||The thumb in Mrigashirsa mudra is held at the base of the Index middle and ring finger|
|Bramharam||Bee||Index finger in the Katakamukha mudra is curled and placed in between the middle finger and the thumb|
|Hamsasyam||Swan’s beak||Thumb and the Index finger touch each other at the tips while the other fingers are straight separated and stretched.|
|Hamsapakshakam||The swan/Swan wings||The three fingers stretched, the little finger raised and thumb bent.|
|Sandamsham||Tongs/Pincers||Sandamsha involves closing and opening of fingers.|
|Mukulam||Bud||When all the five finger are brought together and touch each other at the tip.|
|Tamarachooda||Rooster||Index finger of the Suchi Mudra is bent|
|Trishoolam||Trident||Thumb and the little finger are bent to meet each other while the index, middle and the ring finger are held straight|
Each of the above Hasta Mudras have specific usage when used in a dance. Natyashastra also mentions the third kind of Hasta called Nritta Hasta which are purely decorative with no specific meaning. Dance texts also mention combinations of these hand gestures to denote various ideas.
By – Radha Subramanian
Edited and Published by – Team HSTD (Copyright HSTD)