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Karana is described in the natyashastra as “hastapaada samaayogaah nrttsya karanam bhavet”. It is a combination of three elements, namely nritta hasta (dance movement of the hands), sthaana (a dance posture for the body) and a chaari (a dance movement of the leg). The karanas form the basis of the adavus. Therefore, each karana was practised as a movement and not as a mere posture, as often currently misunderstood. The karanas are said to be numerous but 108 have been codified in the natyashastra. They are found depicted in the stone carvings on the passage walls in the gopurams of the nataraj temples of Chidambaram, as Lord Shiva is said to be the originator of the Karanas. They have found to have influenced all the classical and folk dances of India, as well as bear resemblance to Egyptian, Thai and Indonesian dances.

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