Folk-Lore/Volume 31/The Language of Gesture
|←The Concept of "Soul-Substance" in New Guinea and Melanesia||Folk-Lore, Volume XXXI (1920)
The Language of Gesture,
by James Drummond Anderson
|Incarnate Human Gods→|
The Language of Gesture.
(Folk-Lore, vol. xxx., p. 312 et seq.)
With reference to Mr. H. A. Rose's note on "The Language of Gesture," it may be of interest to say that Bengali dictionaries commonly cite and describe the 22 commonest mudrās used by Hindus when praying, bathing, and performing other ceremonial rites.
These are as follows:—
(1) aṅihiśa, “elephant goad”; palm presented upwards; forefinger curved.
(2) dhenu, “milch cow”; hands joined upwards, palm to palm; thumbs and fingers touching, but fore and middle finger of right hand and third and little finger of right hand crossed.
(3) nārāca, “iron arrow”; palm presented, forefinger straight; others bent.
(4) kūrma, “tortoise”; right hand superposed on left; palms downwards; right forefinger touches left thumb; tip of right little finger touches tip of left forefinger; other three fingers of left hand close round right hand.
(5) avaguṇṭhana, “veil”; right hand with palm downwards; forefinger extended but slightly bent; other fingers closed.
(6) gālinī (meaning not given); left hand superposed on back of right hand, fingers extended and separated, in contact with those of right hand.
(7) matsya, “fish”; left hand superposed as above, but the two thumbs sticking out on each side; fingers of upper hand superposed on those of lower hand.
(8) cakra, “wheel” hands clenched, thumbs incurved; knuckles of the two hands touching.
(9) śankha, “conch”; fingers of right hand clasping thumb of left hand; fingers of left hand placed straight upwards against knuckles of right hand.
(10) gadā, “club”; tips of forefingers joined, thumbs and other fingers closed.
(11) padma, “lotus”; the two hands curved and approached to each other to indicate the globular form of the lotus.
(12) lelihā, “serpent” (?); thumb and forefinger touching; little finger extended.
(13) āvāhanī, “inviting”; hands joined at edge, palms upwards, thumbs turned inwards over palms.
(14) sannidhāppanī, “approaching”; fists closed and brought together, knuckle to knuckle.
(15) saṁbodhi, “addressing”; similar, but thumbs bent under fingers.
(16) sammukhikarana, “presenting”; palms upwards, hands side by side, fingers bent, enclosing thumbs.
(17) yoni, “vulva”; thumbs side by side downwards, little fingers curved so as to show tips on each side of thumbs.
(18) triśula, “trident”; three middle fingers of right hand raised; thumb and little finger bent.
(19) vara, “boon”; right hand held downwards with palm presented, thumb and fingers straight.
(20) abhaya, “fearless”; left hand raised, palm presented; fingers straight.
(21) mṛga, “deer”; left hand held out; middle finger and thumb straight, other fingers bent.
(22) sthāpanī, “depositing”; same as āvāhani, but with hand held downwards.
Perhaps some Hindu member of the Society will kindly explain what the ritual meaning of these gestures is.