Single hand Mudras, also known as “Asamyuta Hasta Mudra” in Kathak, are an integral part of this classical Indian dance form. These gestures play a crucial role in conveying various emotions, moods, and expressions during a performance.
Here are some of the key reasons why single hand gestures are important in Kathak:
Expression of emotions: Single Hand Mudras are used to express a wide range of emotions such as love, anger, sorrow, joy, and compassion. These gestures help the dancer to convey the intended emotion more effectively, making the performance more engaging for the audience.
Depiction of characters and stories: Single hand gestures are also used to depict various characters and events in a story. For example, the gesture “Matsya” (fish) can be used to depict a fisherman catching fish, while the gesture “Hamsasya” (swan) can be used to depict a swan swimming gracefully.
Accentuation of movements: Single Hand Mudras can also be used to accentuate the movements of the body and feet, adding a visual dimension to the dance. For example, the gesture “Kataka Mukha” (crab face) can be used to accentuate a sharp turn of the head.
The use of these Single Hand Mudras is an important aspect of Kathak dance tradition, and mastering these gestures or Mudras is essential for a every Kathak dancer.
Gauri Jog, an exponent of Kathak Dance, Choreographer and teacher based in Chicago explores Single Hand Gestures or Hasta Mudras in Indian Classical Dance Kathak, Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi such as Pataka, Mayur, Aral, Mushti, Shikhar, Kapitha, Suchi.
The open palm is held outward facing, the four fingers and thumb are held close together. Used to express opening/closing of door, beginning of dance, flowing river water, saying “no”, clouds, forest, taking oath, cutting, wind, horse, take rest, enter into a narrow road, blessing, moonlight, sunlight, slap, touching, rain
The palm face is held outwards. The thumb, first and second and little finger are kept straight. The third finger is bent into the palm. Used to express crown, tree, lamp, applying “tikka”, fire flames, turning around, Indra’s, thunderstorms, vajra weapon, pigeon arrow, writing a letter
In this Single Hand Mudras, the hand is rested with the palm facing outwards. The first and second fingers are extended straight and the third and the little finger are bent into the palm. Used to express riverbank, flag, leaves, a saw, a tower, a knife, horn, saying “both”, writing on a board
The hand is raised with the palm facing outwards. The 1st, 2nd and little fingers are extended straight up, the 3rd finger is bent into the palm and the thumb is placed to touch the tip at the 3rd finger. Used to express separation between a women and man, opposite directions, falling, corner of eyes, death, electricity
The hand is raised with the palm outwards. The 1 st, 2nd and little fingers are extended straight; the 3rd finger is bent. Used to express peacock, creeper, bird of omen, throwing up, stroking hair, “tikka” on a forehead, the flow & direction of river water, sprinkling of holy water, becoming popular etc
The palm faces upward slightly. All fingers are stretched together and the thumb is stretched to its fullest at right angles to the rest of the fingers. Used to express moon, 8th day of dark fortnight, a hand seizing the throat, a spear, abhishekh (offering) to deities, a big platter, creation, waist, anxiety, self meditation
The palm is raised and faces outward. The 2nd, 3rd and little fingers are stretched straight. The 1 st finger is crooked or curved and the thumb is a little bent beside it and almost touching the tip of the finger. Used to express drinking poison, drinking nectar, show peacock feathers, to write letter or to show beautiful women like Draupadi.
The palm is raised facing outwards. The 1st and 3rd fingers are stretched and the 2rd and little fingers are curved forward, while the thumb is bent a little beside them. Used to express shooting an arrow, spear, remember the past, talk in astonishment, expressing contempt
Four fingers bent into the palm and the thumb set on them. Used to express grasping hair, to lift something, wrestling, holding a weapon, climbing on a rope
The palm is raised outwards. The four fingers are bent into the palm and the thumb is extended straight out. Used to express Kamdev (God of love), bow, pillar, certainty, offerings to ancestors, upper lips, entering, teeth, questioning, shiv-ling, saying “no”, remember, recollection, ringing bell, applying “tilak” to men’s forehead
The palm is raised outwards. The 2nd, 3rd and little fingers are bent into the palm and the 1 st finger is bent forward and the thumb is bent to touch the tip of the 1st finger. Used to express goddesses Laxmi and Saraswati, milking cows, a girl holding flower, grasping the end of the rope, hold the “Anchal”, “ghungat”
In this Single Hand Mudra, the palm is raised outwards. The 3rd and little finger are extended and bent very slightly, the 1st finger and thumb are curved forward to touch at the tips and the 2nd finger is bent to touch the base at the thumb. Used to express wearing a necklace, offering Betel leaves, grinding paste for mask, drawing a bow slowly, applying scent
The palm is raised outwards. The 3rd and little fingers are bent very slightly, the 1st finger is stretched straight and the 2nd finger is either kept straight or bent to touch the tip of the thumb and the thumb is bent a little forward. Used to express number one, to think, saying “thus” or “what” or “he”, sun, city, world
The palm is raised facing outwards. The 2nd, 3rd and little fingers are bent facing forward parallel to the palm and the first finger and the thumb are stretched apart and extended straight. Used to express moon, face, Lord Shiva’s crown, River Ganga
The palm is hallowed and faces outwards. The four fingers are bent. A part of the little finger and the thumb is moved towards the bent fingers. Used to express fruit, ball, flower bud, to eat, mango, bunch of flowers, lotus, anthill, breast, eating meals, rain, bell shape
The palm is hallowed slightly, raised and faces outwards. The fingers and the thumb are close together and extended as the hood of the snake. Used to express “gandh (sandal wood paste), snake, low tone, looking after animals, sprinkling holy water, offering holy water to God and Sages, to lift a baby, to hold a earthen pot
In this Single Hand Mudras, the palm is raised facing outwards. The little finger is extended straight, the other fingers are bent parallel to the base of the palm and the thumb is bent slightly backward behind the 1st finger. Used to express women, cheek, fear, argument, playing Veena, calling someone or inviting, mark on forehead like “tilak”
The palm is raised facing outwards. The 1st and little fingers are stretched straight; the 2nd and 3rd fingers are bent parallel to the palm and the thumb touches their tips. Used to express animals like rabbit, elephant and homa, lion face, grass, lotus petals, preparing medicines, garland of lotus
The palm is raised facing outwards and all but the little finger touch at the tip. The little finger is bent inward and touches the base of the thumb. Used to express grapefruit, bells and big bells, small bangles, bird, beetle nut, child’s chest, white water lily, coconut
The palm is faced upwards and hallowed. All the fingers are spread out and bent to form a petal led circle. Used to express bloomed lotus, fruit, circular movement, separation from beloved, yearning for beloved, mirror, full moon, beauty, half knot, village, anger, lake, bird, to praise, height, to ask what, why and where
The palm is faced outwards and hallowed. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd fingers and the thumb are bent like a hooded snake and the little finger is extended straight.
Used to express bee, parrot, crane, wing, cuckoo
The palm is raised facing outward and very slightly hallowed. The little finger is extended straight. The 3rd finger is also extended but is bent slightly and the 1st and 2nd fingers are bent forward to touch the thumb at the tips. Used to express act of painting, wick of lamp, tie a knot, blessings
In this Single Hand Mudras, the palm is raised facing outward and very slightly hallowed. The finger is extended straight and the other 3 fingers are bent forward, while the thumb bends over to touch the center of the 2nd finger on the inside. Used to express climbing, making bridge, making marks with the nail, to cover, number six
The palm is raised facing outwards. The 1st finger is bent down to touch the thumb at the tip and the other three fingers are extended forward and very slightly bent at the joints. Used to express stomach, offerings to God, wound, worm, fear, worship, number five
The palm is raised facing outwards. The four fingers are bent forward together and the thumb bent to touch the tip of the fingers. Used to express eating, to show flower bud, water lily, Kamdev (God of love), holding a seal, navel, plantain flower.
The palm is raised facing outwards. The 3rd and the little fingers are bent into the palm. The 1st finger is bent and touches its own base, the 2nd finger is bent forward and the thumb goes to touch it at the first joint. Used to express cock, crane, camel, calf, writing, a child.
Used to express leaf, number three, trident