[INDOLOGY] Question on kūṭiyāṭṭaṃ hastamudrās

Nagaraj Paturi nagarajpaturi at gmail.com
Sat Apr 2 04:28:55 UTC 2022

The content and structure of not just the hastamudras, but the entire
abhinaya  in the dance sections between lines of dialogue is part of the
interpretative or commentatorial nature of  *kūṭiyāṭṭaṃ* performance

The actor plays the role of an aesthetic commentator or elaborator of the
text throughout a *kūṭiyāṭṭaṃ* performance.

Panikker K Ayyappa's small  5 page article  at

particularly, the section Theatre of the Imagination

may help in understanding this key aspect of *kūṭiyāṭṭaṃ* performance

The content of the gestures in the dance sections between lines of dialogue
too is part of this aesthetic interpretation /elaboration/commentary by the

On Sat, Apr 2, 2022 at 2:03 AM DIEGO LOUKOTA SANCLEMENTE <
diegoloukota at ucla.edu> wrote:

>   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
> dialogue?
>   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
> <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKE7QdLvKnM>).
>   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
> <https://ia801600.us.archive.org/21/items/in.ernet.dli.2015.312866/2015.312866.Abhisekanatakam.pdf>
> (p. 63); translation
> <https://archive.org/details/ThirteenPlays2VolBoundInOne/page/n373/mode/2up?view=theater>
> )
>   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?)
> <https://youtu.be/TKE7QdLvKnM?t=1134>
>   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.
>   *namaskaromi*,
>   Diego
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Nagaraj Paturi

Hyderabad, Telangana, INDIA.

Senior Director, IndicA
BoS, MIT School of Vedic Sciences, Pune, Maharashtra
BoS Kavikulaguru Kalidasa Sanskrit University, Ramtek, Maharashtra
BoS Veda Vijnana Gurukula, Bengaluru.
Member, Advisory Council, Veda Vijnana Shodha Samsthanam, Bengaluru
BoS Rashtram School of Public Leadership
Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Studies in Public Leadership
Former Senior Professor of Cultural Studies,
FLAME School of Communication and FLAME School of  Liberal Education,
Hyderabad, Telangana, INDIA.
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