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Dance - Literature

* 7 May 2023
Silappadikaram - India Info Pinterest collection
Silappadikaram, Prof. Nagaswamy maintained, is a dance drama from beginning to end and adopts the tradition of Sanskrit dramas, such as praying/blessing the king at the beginning and at the conclusion of the drama. The Aranga Kaadai in the first volume of Silappadikaram gives details to be followed in a dance drama such as the five different geographical types of lands, the people there, their life styles, emotions as also the characters in the drama, the costumes, jewellery and stage décor. These are exactly the same as found in the Natyasastra of Bharathamuni. Silappadikaram covered the areas from Kumarikandam to Thiruvengadam which comprise all the five types of lands and these had to be enacted on stage by gestures so that the audience could build a mental picture. Many words, such as ‘pindi,’ which originally signified the essential qualities for a dance/dancer, have been later on interpreted as hand gestures.
There have been Tamil texts on dance earlier to Bharatha’s Natyasastra but these have been lost. In Silappadikaram Ilango mentions that Madhavi was awarded by the Chola king because she adhered strictly to the Natya Nannool, which was obviously Natyasastra. The text Koothunool is probably a later one since it talks of dance forms which came into being much later. Prof. Nagaswamy, a multifaceted scholar and a multilinguist, cited several such examples in Silappadikaram , which have been inspired from Natyasastra.
Source: Tracing an epic’s roots by Lakshmi Venkatraman, The Hindu, June 20, 2013

* 11 Nov 2022
24 hand gestures or the Hastas has been codified in the Hasta Lakshana Deepika
Mudras or Hastas plays the most important role in Angika Abhinaya. It has the place of alphabets in a language. Hastas convey the meaning of a song, helps in expressing an emotion better through gestures according to the situation and hence making it a visual treat for the Rasikas or the audience.

Each of the fingers has a name.
1. Little finger - Kanishta
2. Ring Finger - Anamika
3. Middle Finger - Madhyama
4. Index Finger - Tharjani
5. Thumb - Angushtam

These fingers are used to portray the 24 hand gestures or the Hastas which has been codified in the Hasta Lakshana Deepika which literally means the Lamp showing the Purpose of Hand Gestures (of which the author is unknown). It should been noted that the Asamyutha Hastas (Single Hand Gestures) classified in the Natyashastra is slightly different from those in Hasta Lakshana Deepika. Mohiniyattam follows the Abhinaya concepts written in Hasta Lakshana Deepika and Abhinaya Darpana (Mirror of Gesture) authored by Nandikeswara.

Pathaka, Mudrakya, Katakam, Mushti, Kartharimukha, Shukathunda, Kapithakam, Hamsapaksham, Shikaram, Hamsasyam, Anjali, Ardhachandram, Mukuram, Bhramaram, Soochikamukham, Pallavam, Tripathakam, Mrigasheersham, Sarpashiras, Vardhamanakam, Araalam, Oornanabham, Mukhulam, Katakamukham are the 24 hand gestures.

Hastha Lakshana Deepika is a text exploring the hand gestures used in dancing. Koodiyaatam, Kathakali and Kerala Natanam follow this as the manual of gestures or 'mudras', which is believed to have been written in Kerala. Hastha Lakshana Deepika recognizes 24 basic hand gestures called 'chatur vimsathi mudras' and nearly 300 combined gestures.
Source: SEVENTY YEARS OF KERALA NATANAM by G Vinodini, Trivandrum,