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Hasta Mudras (Hand Gestures) in Indian Classical Dance (Kathak)

Mudras are an indispensable part of our Indian dances. Each gesture of the hand can express extreme joy or unexplainable grief. Read more...

Mudras are an indispensable part of our Indian dances. Each gesture of the hand can express extreme joy or unexplainable grief. These mudras contribute to the understanding of the dance, accompanied by the footwork, bodily movements and posture. The hand gestures of the dancer move with the limbs and the body of the performer to mingle in unison with the verses. In the Natya shastra, five chapters have been devoted to this language of poetry. Mudras have significant importance in Kathak. There are twenty-eight gestures for a single hand (Asanyukta), twenty-four gestures for two hands (Sanyukta).

A mudra may imitate an actual object such as a swimming fish, a flying bird, Gods like Vishnu; Shiva; demons like Mahishasura; Bhasmasura; animals like peacock; birds, moon, stars, kings, lovers, places. It also shows an abstract mood or expressions such as love, hate, fear, surprise. A skillful dancer can tell the story without words.

Following is an illustration of how we represent various objects with hand movements.

Mudras in Indian Classical Dance by Gauri Jog
















We at Indian Dance School at Schaumburg teach each of these Kathak Mudras in detail as part of our curriculum. Click the following links to know more about Single or Double hand Mudras.

Technical Terms

Gauri Jog explores major terms used in Indian Classical Dance Kathak, Bhartnatyam such as Amad, Dadra, Chaturang, Kavit, Toda, Palte, Padhant, Laya, Salami, Tatkar, Tehai, Thaat, Tukda, Upang, Thumri

Single Hand Mudras

Gauri Jog explores Single Hand Gestures or Hasta Mudras in Indian Classical Dance Kathak, Bharatnatyam Kuchipudi such as Pataka, Mayur, Aral, Mushti, Shikhar, Kapitha, Suchi

Both Hand Mudras

Gauri Jog explores Two or Both Hand Gestures or Hasta Mudras in Indian Classical Dance Kathak, Bharatnatyam Kuchipudi such as Anjali, Kapota, Swastika, Dola, Katakavardhan, Shankh