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Internationale Zeitschrift für Historische Anthropologie

Ed. by Wulf, Christoph

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The Signing System of Mudra in Traditional Indian Dance

Tista Bagchi
Published Online: 2010-11-16 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/para.2010.0017


Body language involving manual gestures of a highly stylized nature is used in traditional Indian dance forms. Termed “Mudras”, such gestures are related to but distinct from “Mudras” in Buddhist and/or Tantric iconography and in Carnatic music of Southern India. The Mudra signs in dance occur in families or classes, which often cut across the basic dichotomy between “combined-hand” and “separate-hand” gestures, and which reflect linguistic and sociolinguistic classes of words and signs, such as question expressions and hierarchically differentiated pronouns, used in the domain of language. However, the Mudra signing system is also combined with facial mime or acting illustrative of different feelings such as romantic love, mirth, anger, disgust, fear, and sadness, to yield a richly communicative and dynamic aesthetic in Indian dance forms.

Keywords: traditional Indian dance; gestures; language; mime; feeling

About the article

Published Online: 2010-11-16

Published in Print: 2010-11-01

Citation Information: Paragrana Internationale Zeitschrift für Historische Anthropologie , Volume 19, Issue 1, Pages 259–266, ISSN (Print) 0938-0116, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/para.2010.0017.

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