sculptural terminology: tribanga, trivanka

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat May 13 04:32:38 UTC 2000

>refer to this pose as tribanga or trivanka, that is,
>“broken” in three or “bent” in three. Could any list
>members clarify and amplify the meaning of these two
>terms? Are they both Sanskrit? Or Sankrit and Pali

tribhanga is the Sanskrit term for the posture you describe. The hips are
thrust out to the right, the shoulders out to the left, and the head leans
to the right again. This divides the body along three axes, all inclined to
the vertical. The mirror image posture would also be tribhanga. A pronounced
sinuous curvature is given to female bodies especially. The alternative
stance, where the standing body is aligned completely along the vertical, is

The new mammoth Tiruvalluvar statue in Kanyakumari has a somewhat tribhanga
aspect to it. Personally, I think it would have been better to give it a
samabhanga pose, a la Bahubali in Shravanabelagola. What you gain in grace
with tribhanga, you lose in the austerity that samabhanga can convey.

These terms are used in Indian dance terminology too. Bharatanatyam posture
is samabhanga. Odissi posture is tribhanga. The corresponding dance
movements are also related to this posture. Bharatanatyam prefers straight
lines of movement; Odissi moves are all S-shaped patterns, never straight

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