We continue with the hand gestures listed in Abhinayadarpanam.

In dance expression, we depend on the body to convey both concrete and abstract ideas. Hand gestures can thus represent objects, such as ‘flower’, ‘fire’, ‘jewel’, etc., or they can represent abstract nouns — for instance, love, fear, hatred, anger, and even the senses of taste, smell, sight, hearing and touch. In conveying such intangible notions, the dancer’s facial expression is of vital importance, and without it the gesture would likely be useless. However, the positioning and correct holding of the hand gesture is also vital, since a misplaced gesture could change the meaning altogether.

Here is the 12th single-hand gesture listed in Nandikeswara’s Abhinayadarpanam:


There are a few variations of this hasta. Two of these are commonly seen in classical dance usage. For the first, press the tips of the index and middle finger together with the tip of the thumb. Then stretch the ring and little finger upwards. In a variation of this, press together the tips of the index and middle finger with the tip of the thumb, and fold the ring and little finger down into the palm. For the third variation, hold the hand in a fist, then raise the thumb straight up, and then fold the index and middle finger over the top of the thumb. The fourth variation looks complicated to those not familiar with dance: Start with the hand in a fist, raise the thumb straight up, then fold the index finger over the thumb. Next, straighten up the little finger so that it points upwards, and straighten the ring finger so that it forms a 90-degree angle with the little finger.


Katakamukha is used in actions involving holding something delicately, such as plucking flowers, offering them one by one in prayer, or placing a flower in the hair. Holding one hand in katakamukha (fourth variation described above) before the chest and standing in an appropriate posture represents a graceful woman. A girl walking with her long skirt flared outwards can be shown by holding both hands in katakamukha and stretching the arms out to the sides, slanting downwards. Held near the mouth, the first variation of katakamukha is used to represent the sense of taste, and near the nose, the sense of smell.


If you have a query or a response to articles published

in Friday Review, please write to us

at delhifridayreview@gmail.com