Gestures of the Hand
Indian classical dance employs a set of codified hastas (hand gestures) from the Abhinaya Darpana (ancient text on Indian classical dance) to denote people, places, themes and ideas. Each gesture has many different meanings depending on the context in which it is used and how the hand and arm are moved in combination with the dance step.
There are hundreds of ways to use the gestures to tell a story: there are hastas for relationships, the planets, for the gods and for the days of the week. It is indeed an entire language of gesture. Hastas fall under the category of Angikaabhinaya hich uses the body as a medium of expression. Hand gestures are broadly classified into single hand gestures (asamyutahastas) and double or combined hand gestures (samyutahastas).
Asamyuta Hastas – Single Hand Gestures
1. Pataaka (Flag)
Pataaka is done with all fingers held straight like a stop sign. There should be no gap between fingers.
Application (Vinyoga)–cloud, forest, forbidding things, to say ‘no’, chest, night, river, heaven, horse, graciousness, walking, opening the door, shield, holding a sword, etc.
2. TRIPATAAKA T
(Three parts of the flag)
All fingers are held straight and close together with the ring finger bent.
Application – a crown, thunderbolt, tree, light (lamp), rising flames, writing letters, drawing patterns, arrow, etc.
3. Ardhapataaka (Half flag)
Done by bending the little finger after doing Tripataaka.
Application – tender branch, bank of river, saying ‘both’, knife, flag, temple tower, etc.