[INDOLOGY] Touching one's nose with the left index finger

rajam rajam at earthlink.net
Sun Oct 23 03:18:23 UTC 2016

Not sure if it would help, but there’s a reference in Old Tamil literature to women’s gossip around town about a woman’s relationship with a man. The reference is “mūkkin ucci cuṭṭu viral cērtti (மூக்கின் உச்சி சுட்டுவிரல் சேர்த்தி). Women talk about the relationship between an unmarried woman and a man, and their gesture is indicated by ‘touching the tip of their nose with their index finger.’

Recently, when I was watching a music event on YouTube where Prince Rama Varma was teaching a group of students he touched the tip of his nose with his index finger, perhaps to express ‘shame shame’ or something like that. I’d have to search for that video again.

So I guess it was a practice in the south.


> On Oct 22, 2016, at 7:26 PM, Nityanand Misra <nmisra at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 20 October 2016 at 07:44, Buchta, David <david_buchta at brown.edu <mailto:david_buchta at brown.edu>> wrote:
> Dear colleagues,
> I hope someone might have insight (or better yet a textual reference) for a cultural convention.
> In Viśvanātha Cakravartin's commentary (ca. late 17th century) on the Bhāgavata Purāṇa 10.9.7 (uttārya gopī...), where Yaśodā finds the curd-pot that Kṛṣṇa had broken, he adds a comment that she touched the tip of her nose with her left index finger (vāmatarjjanyā nāsāgraṃ spṛṣṭveti jñeyam).
> Can anyone identify the significance of this? Does it indicate exasperation? Surprise?
> Not a definitive answer, but some pointers which may help.
> Compare the use of nāsāgrārpitatarjjanī in the following verse from Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī’s Vṛndāvanamahimāmṛtam (15.33)
> mithyāvādinī kiṃ mudhā pralapasi pratyakṣametatkathaṃ sakhyaḥ paśyata kiṃ tadāha yadiyaṃ kiṃvā’haha sā pṛcchyatām
> evaṃ satyamidaṃ kathaṃ prakupitāsyevaṃ sakhīnāṃ girā nāsāgrārpitatarjjanī kamahasadrādhā śiraḥkampinī
> There is an idiom in Hindi: नाक पर उँगली रखना (nāka para um̐galī rakhanā). I do not have my Hindi Muhavara Kosh with me now, but I have heard the idiom being used in Hindi to convey a feminine gesture of embarrassment, bashfulness, or no longer being able to remain angry [at somebody or something] upon realizing something. 
> Wiktionary lists the meaning of this idiom from an unnamed dictionary under https://hi.wiktionary.org/wiki/नाक <https://hi.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%95> as
> नाक पर उँगली रखकर बात करना = औरतों की तरह बात करना
> While the Chambers English Hindi Dictionary gives नाक पर उँगली रखना as the idiomatic translation of make a long nose [?]
> https://books.google.co.in/books?id=L-tVgTbV980C&pg=PA750 <https://books.google.co.in/books?id=L-tVgTbV980C&pg=PA750>
> PS: The comment by Viśvanātha Cakravartin is also to be found in Vaṃśīdhara Bhāvārthadīpikāprakāśa: vilokya vāmatarjjanyā nāsāgraṃ spṛṣṭveti bhāvaḥ
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