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One of the most striking features of Indian classical dance is the use of hand gestures. Speaking in dance via gestures in order to convey outer events or things visually is what Mudras do. To convey inner feelings, two classifications of Mudras (hand/finger gesture) are used in Indian Classical Dance, and are indeed a prominent part of the dancer's vocabulary.

In Bharatanatyam, the Classical Dance of India performed by Lord Nataraja, approximately fifty-five root mudras (hand/finger gestures) are used to clearly communicate specific ideas, events, actions, or creatures in which thirty-two require only one hand, and are classified as `Asamyukta Hasta', along with twenty-three other primary mudras which require both hands and are classified as 'Samyukta Hasta. [NB these fifty-five are the roots; the branches permit of many more Mudra, some of which are used primarily as aesthetic or decorative enhancements.

Hastas or Hasta Mudras are an integral part of Bharatanatyam, where stories are brought to life through  intricate hand gestures combined with beautiful facial expressions and dynamic movements.

There are 52 Hasta Mudras which are divided into 28  single handed gestures  or Asamyuta Hastas and 24  double Handed gestures or Samyuta Hastas. These Hastas are used to depict stories of Indian where Gods & Goddesses, as well as various characters, creatures, elements of nature, animals, emotions and relationships within a story . Every movement used in Bharatantyam has a Sanskrit name and the uses these movements are taught through verses from the Natya Shastra, which is a detailed treatise on the performing arts including Dance, Drama, Music,and Literature.

List of Asamukta Hasta (Single handed gestures)

Pataka – Flag

Tripataka- Three parts of a flag

Ardhapataka – half-flag 

Kartarimukha – scissors

Mayura – peacock

Ardhachandra – half moon

Arala – bent/peak of the mountain

Shukatunda – parrot’s head

Mushti – fist

Shikhara – peak

Kapittha – Posing to Goddess of wealth

Katakamukha – Holding a garland

Suchi – needle/Express the saying this or that

Chandrakala – phases of the moon

Padmakosha – lotus bud

Sarpashirsha – snake -head

Mrigashirsha – deer's head

Simhamukha – lion's face

Langula – bud/Water-Lily

Alapadma – bloomed lotus

Chatura – Clever and Witty/square

Bhramara – Black bee

Hamsasya – Swan's beak

Hamsapaksha – Swan;s feather

Samdamsha – pincers/closing and opening of fingers

Mukula – blossom/small bud

Tamrachuda – cock

Trishula – Trident of Lord Shiva

Vyagraha - Tiger

Kataka - Resting Place

Palli - Knot

Ardha-suchi - Young one's of a bird

List of Samukta Hasta (Double handed gestures)

Anjali – Salutation

Kapota – Pigeon/A small chest or box for jewels

Karkata – Crab

Svastika – Crossed

Dolahastha – Hanging hands/Express the beginning of the dance

Pushpaputa – Handful of flowers/flower basket

Utsanga – Embrace

Shivalinga – Lord Shiva

Katakaa-vardhana – bangles / bracelets

Kartari-swastika – Crossed scissors

Shakata – Gestures/ describes demons

Shankha – Sea shell

Chakra – Wheel

Samputa – covered box/ Hiding something

Pasha – rope/cord

Kilaka – Emotional bond

Matsya – Fish

Kurma – Tortoise

Varaha – Boar

Garuda – Eagle

Naga-bandha – Pair of snakes

Khatva – Bed

Bherunda – Love birds

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