bharatanatyam Mudras


Hastàbhinaya (Hah-stah-bin-a-yah) = Hand Gestures

Hand gestures are used for a variety of reasons, they may be used to mime the meaning of the song, or they may be simple aestetic ornamentation. Some have very limited meanings, and some are used as catch-alls for miming a variety of ideas. The Natya Shastra lists the following mudras, along with their most prominent meanings. Many others have been developed in the time since, whose histories are harder to trace. In the cases where an idea is being conveyed, it is more important to communicate clearly with hand gestures - adapting them if necessary - than it is to perform them with rigid correctness.

Different schools and styles of dance use different hand gestures and different terms for the same hand gestures. Most have a fairly similar set of terms that largely overlap with this list, but many may be different in the details. It is largely a case of individual style, and so long as everyone can communicate it matters very little what terms are used. The goal of this class and handout are to note the hand gestures that are most likely to have been used in history.

This particular list is based on my experience Aparna Sindhoor's dance instruction and the study of several translations of the Natya Shastram a translation of the Abhinaya Darpana of Nandiksvara and a study of the Nrtyavinoda of Manasollasa - three period dance texts.

The Natya Shastra is a medieval dance text believed to possibly be written as early as 800AD. It is the earliest known dance text, and generally has formed a basis for most subsequent treastises. It was designed to cover all aspects of medieval dramaturgy - dance, music, acting, costumes, stage construction and many other theatrical techniques. As the first known text on dance, it has strongly influenced all the subsequent literature through history, as well as the modern classical dance forms currently active in India.

The Abhinaya Darpana,ascribed to the sage Nandikesvara, is theorized to have been written sometime between the 5th and 13th centuries. Where the Natya Shastra studies all the diverse aspects of theater and dance, including expression, costumes, dance movements, theater construction, and music, the Abinaya Darpana studies only abhinaya or theatrical expression - including facial movements, and hand gestures.

The Nrtyavinoda of Manasollasa is particularly interesting to me, as it is was composed in my region of interest - Karnataka. It is a section of a medieval encyclopedic text called the Manasollasa or Abhilasitarthacintamani, ascribed ot King Somesvara III. The treastise has been dated to 1131 AD. It covers all aspects of dance - dance movements, poses, and expressive gestures (abhinaya) of the hand, face and head. It's particularly interesting in the fact that the movements noted here are significantly different from the Natya Shastra, although the abhinaya information shows a great similarity.

Asa§yuta = "non-combined", single hand gestures

These are single hand gestures because they can be used on one hand independantly from the other. The may also be combined with the same gesture on the same hand, or two different gestures on each hand, as the situation merits.
Natya Shastra Notess and MeaningsPictureAbhinaya Darpana of NadikesvaraNtryavinoda of Manasollasa
    Most basic position, arms often held to the side in pataka in practice
  • striking, driving, joy, pride, etc.
  • rain, shower of flowers
= flag
      beginning dance, cloud, forest, forbidding things, bosom, night, river, world of the gods, horse, cutting, wind, reclining, walking, prowess, graciousness, moonlight, strong sunlight, knocking, meaning of the seven cases, wave, entering a street, equality, applying sandal paste, one's self, taking an oath, silence, benediction, a good king, palmyra leaf, slap, touching, saying "such and such", the sea, the way of good deads, addressing (a person some distance away), going in front, the form of a sword, month year, rainy season, day, sprinking water
  • fingers together - cutting, pride, patting the arm, happiness, cutting a creeper
  • fingers separated - moving the hands through the hair, pushing, falling of flames, giving blessings
  • pointing upwards - depicting lightening and forbidding
  • facing downwards - rain and showering of flowers
  • beckoning, sending away, saluting
  • on forehead - putting on a crown, or touching auspicious objects
  • wiping tears
  • crossed over chest - saluting elders
= three parts of a flag
      crown, tree, vajra weapon, the bearer of the vajra (Indra), screw-pine flower, light, rising flames, cheek, patterns drawn on the face or body, arrow, turning round, union of woman and man
Not mentioned in this text
Not mentioned in either copy of the Natya Shastra= half-flag
      tender shoots, panel for writing or drawing, bank of a river, dagger, knife, flag, tower, horn, saying "Both"
Not mentioned in this text
  • mountian summit, traveler walking
= arrow shaft face
      Text describes the hand position as "in the same hand (as ardhapataka), the forefinger and little finger are out spread". The plates provided by the author show a relaxed tripataka position. Given the context, I prefer the image shown with this position.
      separation of woman and man, opposition or overturning, stealing, the corner of the eye, death, disagreement, lightning, sleeping alone, falling, a creeper
Not mentioned in this text
Not mentioned in either copy of the Natya Shastra= peacock
      the peacock's beak, a creeper, bird of omen, vomiting, forehead, stroking the hair, forehead, brow-spot, wiping away tears, argument according to law, renown
Not mentioned in this text
      This is the position held when hands are resting behind the back during modern practice
  • crescent moon, young trees, pot, woman's girdle or waist
= half moon
      the moon on the eigth day of the dark fortnight, a hand seizing the throat, a spear, consecrating an image, a platter, origin, waist, anxiety, one's self, meditation, prayer, touching the limbs, greeting common people
sweeping, mixing, clasping the waist
  • blessing in the case of males
  • collecting the hair of females
  • courage, dignity of men and self-admiration by women
= bent
      drinking poison, nectar, etc., or sharp acid
      blessing, describing, holding an umbrella or a goad, looking wish astonishment
  • lover's anger, jewlousy, contempt
  • bent down and straightened more than once - suggests invitation, or challenge
= parrot's beak
      shooting an arrow, throwing a spear, mystery, ferocity

  1. rebuking
while saying "no", casting dice or shells, expressing contempt and
Muùñi (Uùñi)
  • holding of weapon, striking
= fist
      steadiness, grasping the hair, holding things, wrestling
  • thumb on top of fingers - running, beating, holding a sword or a bow
  • fingers on top of thumb - milking, wrestling, beating the sides
      In modern usage I have seen this mean "who" or "who is" as well. For example, "who came to my house" or "he who is Vishnu".
  • Discharge of arrows, pointing lips and legs, lifting up tresses
= spire
      the God of Love, bow, pillar, silence, husband, tooth, entering, questioning, the body, saying "No!", recollection, intimate suggestion, untying the girdle, embrace, lover, letting fly sakti and tomara weapons, sound of a bell, pounding
ringing of bells, pressing or rubbing the body, throwing a spike or a javelin, holding a rope or reins
  • suggests weapons
= elephant apple
      Lakshmi, Sarasvati, winding, holding cymbals, milking cows, collyrium, holding flowers at the time of dalliance, grasping the end of the robe, veiling the head with the ancala, offering incense or lights, etc.
affirmation, releasing a disc (wheel), discharging weapons after mediating (by placing on forehead)
  • pulling reins, wearing garments, holding the hem of garments, threading a pearl necklace
= opening in a link
      This is described as looking more like the picture shown in this column. However, the translator suggests a position that looks like a relaxed Kappittha.
      picking flowers, holding a pearl necklace or garland of flowers, drawing a bow slowly, distributing folded betel leaves, applying such things as musk or scent, speech, glancing
holding an umbrella, fly whisk, weapons or mirror, grasping the hair and the noose
  • turned around - suggests some type of wheel, or a crowd
= needle
      called Såci(Sue-chi), instead
      one, Parabrahma, demonstration, one hundred, sun, city, world, saying "Thus" or "What?", "He", fan, threatening, pining away, rod, the body, astonishment, braid of hair, umbrella, capability, down, beating the drum, turning the potter's whell, wheel, circle, explanation, evening
  • vakra - bent - using weapons, forbidding
  • prasarita - directing, threating
  • kampra - earring, turning of a wheel, good words, and swinging
Not mentioned in either copy of the Natya Shastra= digit of the moon
      to indicate the crescent moon
Not mentioned in this text
  • worship of a god, showering of flowers, some fruits and a woman's breasts
= lotus bud
      fruit, wood-apple, elephant-apple, etc., breast, curve, ball of flowers, light food, bud, mango, rain of flowers, cluster of flowers, the japa flower, the shape of a bell, the hole of a snake, a water-lily, an egg
taking the kapittha orbilva fruit, showing the hand to children, a downcast face
  • giving water, movement of snake's head
= snake head
      sandal-paste, snake, slowness, sprinkling, cherishing, etc., giving water to gods and sages, the flapping of elephant's ears, massage of wrestlers
  • calledAhiphaõa
  • pouring, drinking or offering of holy water
  • facing downwards - waving movement, dwarves
  • facing upwards - blessing, appeasing, movements of snakes
  • the concepts of "here", "now", wiping perspiration
= deer head
      women, cheek, traditional manners, fear, discussion, costume of an actor, place of residence, tete-a-tete, drawing three lines on the brow, patterns on the ground, massage of the feet, combining, house, holding an umbrella, stair, placing the feet, calling the beloved, roaming
  • facing downwards - wiping off sweat, beckoning, shading eyes from the sun
  • facing upwards - colouring the face, throwing the dice
Not mentioned in either copy of the Natya Shastra= lion face
      coral, pearl, fragrance, stroking the hair, a drop of water, salvation when placed on the heart, homa, hare, elephant, waving kusa grass, lotus garland, lion face, testing the preparation of medicine
Not mentioned in this text
Kàïgala (Làïgula)
  • sense of little, or child's face held up by chin
= tail
      lakuca-fruit, breast of a young girl, white water-lily, partridge, areca-nut, little-bells, pill, cataka
different types of fruits, small quantities, and caressing the chin of children
Utpalapadma(Alapallava, Alapadma, Alapadya)
  • prohibiting or asking 'who are you?'
= full blown lotus
      Also called Sola-padma
      full-blown lotus, elephant-apple, turning, breast, yearning for the beloved, mirror, full-moon, a beautiful vessel, hair-knot, moon-pavilion, village, height, anger, lake, car, bird, murmering sound, praise
praising oneself, forbidding, enquirin 'who are you?', and emptiness
  • grace, hope, affection, youth
      musk, a little gold, copper etc., wet, sorrow, aesthetic emotion, eyes, difference of caste, oath, playful converse, slow-stepping, breaking to peices, seat, oil or ghi, etc.chanting prayers, a small quantity, doubt, Vedic discourse
  • picking flowers, removing thorns
= bee
      bee, parrot, crane, cuckoo, union
holding flowers with long stalks, earrings, palm leaves, removing thorns
  • small, little, delicate
= swan-face
      tying the marraige thread, initiation, certainty, horripilation, painting, gad-fly, drop of water, raising the wick of a lamp, rubbing, examining things, drawing lines, carrying garlands, singifying "That am I", metaphor, saying "No!", indicating things to be examined by rubbing, accomplishment of a task
  • described as main picture, with ring finger bent
  • moved slightly - smoothness, smallness and softness
  • kept steady - act of smelling flowers
  • offering water to the dead, feeding of Brahmins
  • in the case of women, suggest sorrow, holding the chin
= swan-feather
      the number six, constructing a bridge, making marks with the nails, arranging
applying color to the face, tying up the hair, accepting
  • taking out a thorn or picking delicate flowers
  • brushing collyrium to the eyes
  • when pearls are pierced
= grasping
      Alternating between mukula (below) and patmakosa (above) as defined by this text. This is consistent with the modern usage.
      generosity, sacrificial offerings, tumour, insect, apprehension, worship, the number five
  • as in main picture but straight fingers are bent at knuckles
  • Agraja - towards the front - removing thorns, plucking small flowers, rebuking rudely
  • Parsvaja - facing the side - rubbing sacred thread, powdering things like camphor, taking betel leaf
  • Mukhaja - towards the face - painting, drawing the eyebrows, stringing beads, decorating the eyelashes
  • worship to gods, kissing lovers, touching breasts
= bud
      water-lily, eating, the God of Love, holding a seal, navel, plantain flower
  • obliquely and facing upwards, counting gold coins
  • facing downwards - prayer, making offerings to the Gods
  • catching a female by the hair, scratching the head and so on.
Not mentioned in this text.taking objects like gold, a lion, tiger, scratching the head
  • to beckon children, rebuke, etc.
= red-crest, cock
      cock, crane, camel, calf, writing or drawing
inspiring confidence in children, hurrying up, snapping fingers, in war, yawning and kings
Not mentioned in either copy of the Natya Shastra= trident
      wood-apple leaf, three together
Not mentioned in this text

Sa§yuta = "combined", double hand gestures

Notes/MeaningPictureAbhinaya Darpana of NadikesvaraNtryavinoda of Manasollasa
  • used to greet friends - held in front of the chest
  • used to receive presents - held near the face
  • used to make obeisance to deities held on the head
= salutation
      saluting Deities, Elders (gurus) or Brahmans - hands held on the head for Deities, before the face for Elders, and on the chest for Brahmans
  • called Kap‘ta
  • beseeching the deities, humility, joy, paying heed to the advice of elders
  • ferocious approach with inimical intention
  • bowing down and talking to a venerable man
  • held on breast by women to represent cold and fear
  • when the meet and are released - indicates having ideas, expressing possibilities, or showing anxiety
= dove
      taking oath, coversation with elders, humble acquiescence
  • called A¤jali
  • described as SarpasÑrùakahands joined together
  • saluting or venerating deities, humility, joy and paying heed to the advice of elders
  • Bee's wax, massaging the limbs, yawning after getting up from sleep, a huge body, supporting the chin, holding a conch shell to blow on it.
= crab
      hands may be turned inwards or outwards
      group, stoutness, blowing the conch, stretching the limbs, bending the bough of a tree
  • fingers inside - used to depict anxiety
  • fingers outside -yawning after waking, blowing instruments like the conch, surprise
  • "Svastika literally, means crossed, many hand-positions can be svastika.
  • if separated from the position, represents directions of clouds, the firmament, jungles, oceans, the earth and other vast things as well.
= crossed
      crocodile, timid speech, dispute, praising

      listening intently to musical notes, sky, objects which are high up and expansive
  • kataka = name of single hand mudra
  • wooing a lady, or bowing down to a venerable person
= link of increase
      coronation, ritual, marriage blessing
      written as katakavardhana, described as kataka hands crossed, so if the book is consistent, refer to kataka hands in the column above, which are slightly different.
decorating the stage, making garlands, speaking the truth
  • kartari = name of single hand mudra
  • svastika = crossed
Not mentioned in the Natya Shastra= crossed arrow-shafts
      trees, the boughs of tress, the summit of a hill
  • main use - feeling of touch
  • also for anything with excessive effort, acts of anger and indignation, women's envious acts and squeexing of something.

- or -

= embrace
      embrace, modesty, armlet, education of children
      describes only the lower (crossed) picture, with hands in mrgasirsa (thumbs out)
hands are crossed in SarpasÑrùaka

embracing, anger, cold, bashfulness, women
  • Patience, intoxication, arrogance, magnanimity, eagerness, valour, conceit, haughtiness, absence of motion, steadiness, etc.
  • If pressed down with the other, indicates grasping, receiving, preserving, convention, truthfulness and compression
Text is unclear, there are two possibilities

- alternating with -

- or -

Not mentioned in this textdescribes bottom picture, with kapittha hand circling the mukula hand

collecting, discriminating, speaking the truth, squeezing
  • haste, sadness, loss of sense, swooning, drunkeness, excitement, ilness, and weapon-inflicted wounds
= swing
      beginning an expressive dance-story
      describes the position as "hands in pataka on thighs"
fatigue, grief, swooning, intoxication, sorrow, and fear
  • Usually used as an offering
  • indicates receiving, carrying, etc.
  • holding rice, fruits, flowers, different kinds of foodstuffs as well as water
= flower-casket
      offering lights, twilight water-offering, flower-spells, children receiving fruits, etc.
giving flowers, grain or water, begging, making offering tot he deities
Not mentioned in the Natya Shastra.= car
      the gestures of the Raksasas (demons)
Not mentioned in the Natya Shastra.
Modern image
= conch
      The gesture is described as "the thumbs of the Sikhara hands are joined, and the forefinger extended."
CakraNot mentioned in the Natya Shastra.= discus
Not mentioned in the Natya Shastra.= casket
      concealing things, casket
Not mentioned in the Natya Shastra.= noose
      enmity, noose, manacles
Kãlaka(Key-la-kah)Not mentioned in the Natya Shastra.= bond
      affection, the conversation of lovers
  • can represent lion, tiger, elephant, crocodile, shark, fish, and flesh eating animals.
= fish
  • Called Matsya (maat-si-ya), as it is called modernly.
  • description also involves sticking out little finger

  • using weapons in war
  • pointing upwards to show a blossoming lotus flower
  • held sideways - used to depict children in salutation and short objects
Not mentioned in the Natya Shastra.= tortoise
Not mentioned in the Natya Shastra.= boar
Not mentioned in the Natya Shastra.= Garuda
      Garuda is Vishu's mount - an anthropomorphic eagle
carrying of bride and groom, excessive weight, clasping a pillar and the extermination of a hilll or a boulder= serpent-tie
      pairs of snakes, bower, Atharva Veda spells

women alighting from a vehicle, carrying children and uprooting a rock
Not mentioned in the Natya Shastra.= bed
Not mentioned in the Natya Shastra.pair of Bherundas
Different N.S. and Apurna, Apurna's is shown here, text is harder to interpret.= dissimulation
      erotic dances, holding a playball, the breasts

leanness of the body, a lady speaking in anxiety
  • Opening of objects, like latticed windows
Not mentioned in text
opening doors, windows and the like

Nçittahastas = "dance hands", histrionic gestures

There's no pronounciation guide, since these came directly from a book, with no pronounciation guides.
NameNatya ShastraNrtyavinoda
Catura÷rahands held at shoulders

Waved "like a palm leaf fan", either waving entire hand, or rolling fingers.
both hands are waved in hamsapaksa

- or -
 <-- Nrtyavinoda describes this
Sources conflict

- or -
 <-- Nrtyavinoda describes this
Sources reference crossing the Tàlamukha gesture.

- switching to -

Rotating fingers between two positions.

âviddhavakrakaMove from one to the next...

SåcãmukhaNot mentioned in this text

SåcyàsyaNot mentioned in this text

RecitaFingers are rotated in a circle
gesture extended to the side

ArdharecitaFingers in the Haüsapakùa are rotated as in Recita
same position, hands are moved in "Khañakàsya" when I figure out what that is, I'll let you know.

UttànavancitaWith a shoulder shimmy
no shoulder shimmy

hands are moved obliquely


NitambaFrom Pallava gesture (above) into...

- and then to...-
hands are in tripataka, not pataka (see picture), after bringing hands to hips, rotate the fingers (hand circles)

Means "hair knot", probably referring to something like this...

In short, move hands between side, head, waist, head...

Hands moved from picture #2 to picture #1. Hands are held in tripataka

LatàHands in tripataka, and fingers are rotated (hand circles)

Swinging outward hand from side to side, like the trunk of an elephant
Similar position, suggests the outward hand is also rotated in hand circles (recita)

Does not specify which hand is up.

Hands in tripataka, on upper part of hips

Pretty much, just the reverse of the previous pose, not specific as to which hand goes where. Sources differ. It may also be

The hands in Tripataka Hasta are turned up and placed on the waist

Again, which hand where is not described.

The hands in Tripataka Hasta are facing downwards and extended obliquely, with elbows slightly bent.

DanóapakùaOne of several movements involving Haüsapakùa hand position. Possibly...


Possibly alternating one hand side, one hand front, as though one was twirling a staff around the body. Possibly twirling only the fingers in circles. Texts are unclear and disagree.
Like this:

With thumbs over hands (hamsapaksa), hands are rotated.

Urdhvomanóalã"Circling movement near upper part of body" it's rather uncertain what that actually means.Called Urdhvamaõóalina, probably a difference in pronounciation of same word.

The hands are moved round (in Vyàvartita and Parivartita - see below) over head.

Uromoõóali"One hand is to be raised up after the circling movements and the other is to be kept hanging down. Some movements are to tkae place near the breast." Again - rather unclear on what exactly should be done.Not mentioned in this text

Pàr÷vamaõóalinaNot mentioned in this text.
The hands in Arala Hasta are moved round (in Vyàvartita andParivartita - see below).

Vakù‘maõóalinaNot mentioned in this text.Hand circles in front of chest.

Uraþpàrãvàrdhamanóala - and - 
"Are moved by turns above the breast and on the sides" - possibly alternating the two gestures, while moving the hand about, possibly rotating the hand while holding it in the general vicinity.
Similar definition. In this text, arala (the left picture) is quite different, see above (single hand gestures).

In both hands with wrist circles
Similar definition in this text

Nalinã Padmako÷a
Starting in this position, rotating wrist with the pinkie finger leading the fingers into and away from the palm.
hands in picture to the left are "shanken and moved round from the knees to the head".

AlapallavaFingers and wrist roll outwards into
Not mentioned in this text

UlbaõàNot mentioned in this textHands in:

are "stretched upwards and moved round.

LalitaNot mentioned in this text

Hands are "crossed at elbows". Does not specify direction - up, down, forward...
Not mentioned in this text

Hasta Kriyà

According to Natya Shastra, they are called Karaõas = "Four classes of hand gestures", four ways of moving the hand gestures. All happen simultaneously while rotating the wrist. In the Nrtyavinoda, they are called Hasta Kriyà, and described as the action which has to be carried out by the hand in order to make a gestures. The names and definitions are the same in both texts.
âveùñitaleading with the index finger curl fingers into palm
Udveùñitaleading with the index finger stretch fingers outwards
Vyàvartitaleading with the pinkie finger curl fingers into palm
Parivartitaleading with the pinkie finger stretch fingers outwards

Bibliography and Source Notes

  • Aparna Sindhoor - teacher of Mysore Style Bharata Natyam, a modern classical dance form, generally originating from Southern India, and loosely inspired by nadir, the traditional dance of the devadasis, aka temple dancers/servants, from the late 19th century. The first two sections (single and double hand gestures) were largely inspired by Aparna. She was the original teacher for all terms and positions, except for Katakavardhamanaka, Nisadha, and Vardhamana. All pronounciations are based on her teaching, although the pronouciation guide is my interpretation. Aparna teaches in Somerville, MA, and the Dance Complex in Cambridge, MA. More information on her current work is available at
  • Nàñya÷àstra, English Translation with Cricital Notes by Adya Rangacharya, published by Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd. in New Delhi, in 1996. This commentary was used for name spelling, description of hand positions and meanings for the first series of gestures (single hand gestures). As it does not list definitions for the other sections, it could not be consulted.
  • Nàñya øàstra of Bharatamuni, translated into English by a Board of Scholars. Published by Sri Satguru Publications in Delhi in 2000. This translation was used for the basis for the second and third sections. The names, positions, and meanings of the hand gestures originates from this text. It was also used as a cross reference point for the first section - it largely agreed with Rangadcharya's work.
  • Tàõóava Lakùaõam or the Fundamentals of Ancient Hindu Dancing, by B.V. Narayanaswami Naidu, P. Srinivasulu Naidu, O.V. Rangayya Pantulu. Published by Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd. in New Delhi, in 1936. Used to get further information on the third section, primarily. Had many suspicious differences in definitions of first two sections, and was not entirely in agreement with the Board Translation on Section 3. Generally the differing interpretations were presented side by side.
  • The Mirror of Gesture: Being the Abhinaya Darpaõa of Nandike÷vara by Ananda Coomaraswamy. Published by Munshiram Manoharlal, Pvt. Ltd. in New Delhi in 1997. All the notes in the "Abhinaya Darpana" section come from this text. It's a translation with critical notes of an ancient dance text by the sage Nandikesvara. The author makes quite a bit of his own commentary without referencing sources, which is rather frustrating, but the pictures in the back and the actual translation are quite good.
  • The Nçtyavin‘da of Mànas‘llàsa: A Study by Hema Govindarajam. Published by Harman Publishing House in New Delhi in 2001. Quite esoteric, but also fabulous. It's a comparative study between the Nrtyavindoa, the dance component of an encyclopedic text from 1131 A.D. in Karnataka, and two other leading dance texts - the Natya Shastra and the Sangita Ratnakara (written in the early 13th century). The odd thing is there is a marked discrepancy between its interpretation of the Natya Shastra and my translations.
These are just the main sources for this class. If you want to know more about the history of Indian dance, it's place in Indian society in history, or developing a devadasi persona, contact me privately... I love to gab about this stuff, but I won't stick in that many sources here!

Internet Resources

In my opinion, the Internet dance information has a long way to go compared to print books - particularly on the history end. It is growing rapidly, though, and improvement in the number and depth of resources out there has grown a hundredfold in the approxiamately three years I've been out there surfing for this stuff... Still, Internet sites are only as good as the people that write them, so you have an equal chance of hitting history and fantasy - so always weigh your sources. The sites below are pages I've dug up that specifically do a good job with hand gestures in Indian dance or the history of Indian dance, particularly Bharata Natyam. They should all be assumed to be modern - they all reference dance styles practiced modernly, generally all of which were firmly codified in the last 200 years...
  • - Kay Poursine's website. Kay Poursine is a well-known dancer in the states, one of the first famous Caucasian dancers I'd ever heard of and also one of the first with a great Interent site. Her stuff is right on target.
  • - a refreshingly honest and well-researched account of the roots of Bharata Natyam, as well as an excellent discussion of various components of dance. For hand gestures, check out - and all the links that end with the word "hasta".
  • - This time, hand gestures with pictures. I see a typo - ardhapataka and kartarimukha look like the same gesture, and I've never seen that before, also Kartarisvastika doesn't look right... so I'm a little suspicious, but generally this is a really slick site.
  • - another primer on hand gestures. Looks pretty good, a little less descriptive, but I don't see any inaccuracies.
  • - Hand movements links at the bottom of the page. These are REALLY different from what I was taught. Very likely they are from a different dance style than Bharata Natyam. Most of the Indian dance styles share alot of basic theory and terminology, but differ on details.
  • - always a favorite site of mine... no pictures, but the descriptions are fabulous. Probably translating the Natya Shastra.


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