In the Indian classical dance tradition, hand gestures or mudras are widely used to convey everything from emotions to objects to happenings to living beings to situations. Mudras are used skillfully with facial expressions, poses and dynamic movements to convey stories in Bharatnatyam. As we had written earlier there are two kinds of hand gestures, Samyukta (joined or with two hands) and Asamyukta (with single hand) Mudras.
There are twenty eight Asamyukta or single hand gestures as stated in the NatyaShastra. They are as follows-
1. PATAKA- It is used at the beginning of Natya, to denote clouds, a forest, forbidding, bosom, might river, region of the gods (Heaven),horse, cutting, wind, lying down, going, favour, moonlight, strong sunlight, forcing open doors, wave a greeting, entering a street, equality, anointing oneself, taking an oath, silence, palmyra leaves, shield, touching things, benediction, the ideal king, showing a place, sea, doing of good deeds, addressing a person, going forward, holding a sword, a month, a year, a rainy day , sweeping.
2. TRIPATAKA- This is used to denote crown, tree, Vajra( Indra’s thunderbolt), Indra( the bearer of vajra), Ketaki flower, a lamp, rising flames, pigeon, patterns drawn on the face or breast(patralekha), an arrow, turning round.
3. ARDHAPATAKA- This is used to denote leaves, board or slab for writing or painting, bank of a river, both, knife, a banner, a tower, a horn.
4. KARTARIMUKHA-This is to denote separation of a man and a woman, overturning, plundering, eyes, death, lightning, sleeping alone, falling and weeping, creeper.
5. MAYURA- This is used to denote a peacock, a bird, vomiting, opening out the hair, tilakam, ripples of water, discussing Shaastra.
6. ARDHCHANDRA- This is used to denote the phase of the moon, hand seizing the throat, abhisheka, plate, origin, waste , musing , contemplating, meditation, prayer, touching the limbs, greeting by the common people.
7. ARALA- This is used to denote drinking poison, nectar, breeze.
8. SUKHATUNDA- This is used to denote shooting of an arrow, spear, saying of mystic things.
9. MUSHTI- This is used to denote steadfastness, grasping one’s hair, holding things, fight.
10. SHIKHARA- This is used to denote the head of a family, king, bow, peak, questioning, ask why, thinking, embracing, bell, girdle.
11. KAPITTA- This is used to denote Goddess Lakshmi, holding cymbals, milking cows, holding a flower, grasping the end of the robes, gathering the cloth, offering incense or light( aarti).
12. KATAKAMUKHAM- This is used to denote the picking of flowers, a pearl necklace, flower garland, to show Cupid’s arrow being fixed on the bow, offering betel leaves(paan), making a paste of haldi or Chandan, sprinkling perfume, big eyes.
13. SUCI- This is used to denote the number one, one hundred, indicate an object, everybody, all round, once upon a time , threatening, growing thin, rod, astonishment, beating of drums, silencing, wheel, thinking.
14. CHANDRAKALA- The crescent on Lord Shiva’s head.
15. PADMAKOSHA- This is used to denote fruits, large temple bells, ball, circular movement, small container, flower bud, mango, cluster of flowers, anthill.
16. SARPASIRSA- This is used to denote the hood of a snake , filling sandal paste or butter in a container, sprinkling, lumps on the elephant’s head, arms of a muscle man.
17. MRIGASHEERSHA- This is used to denote a woman, cheek, child, costume, smearing vibhuti on self, flute, forehead, massaging the feet, calling.
18. SIMHAMUKHA- This is used to denote Homam (the sacred fire pit), deer, cattle, doing archana(offerings) with vilvadala (leaves).
19. KANGULA- This is used to denote fruit, bells around the neck of a calf or a cow, betel nut.
20. ALAPADMA- This is used to denote a lotus, circular movement, full moon , to go, beauty, hair knot, tower, village, height, anger, praise, the face.
21. CHATURA- This is used to denote musk, a little, gold, copper, iron, wet, to plead, eyes, border.
22. BRAMHARA- This is used to denote a bee, parrot, crane, the wings of an insect.
23. HAMSASYA- This is used to denote the beak of a swan, tying with thread, ascertaining instruction, horripilation, pearls, pull out the wick, a jasmine flower, painting, drawing, purity.
24. HAMSAPAKSHA- This is used to denote the number six, construction of a bridge, covering, girl, small child, equality, house.
25. SANDAMSA- This is used to denote stomach, offering, wound, great fear, number five, sprinkling, sparkle.
26. MOOKULA- This is used to denote water lily, eating, panchabanam, seal, plantain flower.
27. TAMRACHUDA- This is used to denote cock, hen, crane, damsel walking.
28. TRISULA- This is used to denote the trident, number three, Lord Shiva holding the spear, the mark on the forehead of Shaivites and Vaishnavites.