[INDOLOGY] Question on kūṭiyāṭṭaṃ hastamudrās

DIEGO LOUKOTA SANCLEMENTE diegoloukota at ucla.edu
Fri Apr 1 20:32:02 UTC 2022

  Dear all,

  I am looking for guidance regarding the conventions of the Sanskrit
theater traditions of Kerala. The question is: What is the content and
structure of the semantic gestures in the dance sections between lines of
  In one of my courses we will be reading the *Little Clay Cart* (
*Mṛcchakaṭika*) this academic quarter, and I wanted to show the students a
glimpse of the living tradition of performance in Kerala. I luckily found
excellent Youtube footage of a *kūṭiyāṭṭaṃ* performance of a portion of
Bhāsa's Abhiṣekanāṭaka at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2008 (link
  The segment I have examined is the very beginning of Act III, in which
the *rākṣasa* Śaṅkukarṇa arrives to Rāvaṇa's castle to inform him that
Hanumat has destroyed the Aśoka garden and has to talk to the doorwoman
Vijayā  (text
(p. 63); translation
  The snippet starts with the recited line of Śañkukarṇa, in which every
word is signed/gestured with its appropriate semantic *hastamudrā*:

18'54" <https://youtu.be/TKE7QdLvKnM?t=1134>: *Ka iha bhoḥ
Kāñcanatoraṇadvāram aśūnyaṃ kurute?* (Hello! Who here keeps the gate of the
Golden Gatehouse unexposed?)

  Then follows a section of dance and gesture:

19'28" <https://youtu.be/TKE7QdLvKnM?t=1134>

  And after two minutes finally comes the answer of Vijayā, also gestured:

21'27" <https://youtu.be/TKE7QdLvKnM?t=1287>: *Ayya, ahaṃ Vijaā. Kiṃ
karīadu?* (Sir, it is I, Vijayā. What is there to be done?)

  My question is, again: What is the content of the gestures in the dance
sections between lines of dialogue? Are they somehow drawn from the script
or from elsewhere?  Would anyone be able to gloss some or all of the
gestures in the section between 19'28" <https://youtu.be/TKE7QdLvKnM?t=1168>
and 21'27"?
  I have been trying to use the repertoire of *hastamudrā*s in G. Venu's *The
Language of Kathakali*, but have not been very successful so far. Any
guidance would be sincerely appreciated.


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