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One of the most striking features of Indian classical dance is the use of hand gestures.

Actually speaking in order to convey meaning and expressions, hand gestures make a prominent existence. However hand gestures known as nritta hastas are employed for the sake of beauty and decorative purposes while performing nritta.

This is a list of mudras.


The Abhinaya Darpan mentions that the dancer should sing the song by the throat, express the meaning of the song through hand gestures, show the state of feelings by eyes and keep track of the time with feet.

From the Natya Shastra, a text on the arts, this beautiful quotation and translation was often quoted by Indian classical dance instructors:

"Yato hasta stato drishti"..."Where the hand is, the eyes follow"

"Yato drishti stato manaha"..."Where the eyes go, the mind follows"

"Yato manaha stato bhava"..."Where the mind is, there is the expression"

"Yato bhava stato rasa"..."Where there is expression, there is mood/flavour(i.e., appreciation of art)"

So vast is the hand gestures that it covers almost all the aspects of human life and the entire universe.

Hence 'Mudras' form a distinct code language and bring unique poetic element while performing abhinaya and thus the language of the mudras enables the dancer to express practically anything and everything.

Indian Classical Dance[edit]

Bharata Natyam[edit]

In Bharata Natyam there are about 32 single hand root mudras called as Asamyukta Hasta and 23 double hand mudras called as Samyukta Hasta.

Asamyukta hastas (single hand gestures)[edit]

Name in Sanskrit Translation(s) in English Other Meanings Illustration
Pataka Flag Hasthamudra1.JPG
Tripataka Three Parts of the Flag Hasthamudra3.JPG
Ardhapataka Half flag
Kartarimukha Arrow shaft Scissors Hasthamudra9.JPG
Mayura Peacock
Ardhachandra Half moon
Arala Peak of the Mountain
Shukatunda Beak of a parrot
Mushthi Closed fist
Shikhara Heroism Hasthamudra2.JPG
Kapitta Posing to Goddess of Wealth Wood apple tree
Katakamukha Crab
Suchi Needle
Chandrakala Waxing moon Hasthamudra5.JPG
Padmakosha Lotus bud
Sarpashirsha Hood of a snake Hasthamudra12.JPG
Mrigashirsha Head of a deer
Simhamukha Face of a lion Hasthamudra6.JPG
Langula or Kangula Water Lily
Alapadma Flowering lotus
Chatura Clever and Witty Hasthamudra10.JPG
Bhramara Bee
Hamsasya Head of a swan
Hamsapaksha Wing of a swan Hasthamudra15.JPG
Sandamsha Tongs
Mukula Flower bud
Tamrachuda Cock Hasthamudra7.JPG
Trishula Trident Hasthamudra18.JPG
Ardhasuchi Half needle
Vyagraha Tiger
Palli Knot
Kataka Resting Place

Samayukta hastas (double hand gestures)[edit]

Name in Sanskrit Translation(s) in English Other Meanings Illustration
Anjali Offering Hasthamudra8.JPG
Karkatam Crab
Swastikam Auspicious sign Hasthamudra.JPG
Shivalingam Phallus of Lord Shiva
Shankha Conch-shell
Chakram Rotating disc ഹസ്തമുദ്ര3.JPG
Pasha Ropes
Matsya Fish
Kurma Tortoise
Varaha Boar
Garuda Half-eagle, half-human mount of Lord Vishnu

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wall Street Journal (28-07-2010). "Q&A: Delhi Airport’s ‘Hands’ Sculpture".
  2. ^ Indian Express (26-06-2010). "Friendly Gestures".

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mudras_(dance) — Please support Wikipedia.
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