Learn the Lingo
We continue with the double-hand gestures listed in Abhinayadarpanam.
MATSYA Bharatanatyam dancer Akshaya R., a disciple of Guru Vasudevan, shows the hasta (top) and depicts a fast swimming fish.
Some dance gestures are so common they can be recognised internationally. This week's gesture, the 17th double-hand gesture in Nandikeswara's list, is one such. If you show this mudra to someone who speaks a foreign language, you are likely to learn the word for ‘fish' in that language!
Hold the hands with four fingers straight and close together, while the thumb protrudes at right angles. Hold both hands so that the palm faces the ground. Now place the right on top of the left. This makes a fish shape. Usually the elbows are held out to the sides, which gives the mudra a stylised look. Move the thumbs in a backward circular movement like the fins of the fish.
The hasta is traditionally used to show either a regular fish, or the mystical fish form taken by Lord Vishnu — the Matsya avatara. This avatara is the first of the Dashavatara-s, the 10 forms of mortal life adopted by Lord Vishnu at different times according to Hindu scriptures. The body's stance, movement style and facial expression change according to whether one is showing the avatara, or a tiny, playful fish, a large predator, one placidly swimming or one suffering from pollutants.
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