Five hastamudras in Mohiniyattam explained in detail.

In our earlier articles, we have discussed the pure nrutta aspects such as Mandalams, Padabedhas, Chaaris and Nrutta hastas. We have also discussed the origin of intricate hand gestures(hasta mudras) in dance and theatre tradition. We also elaborated on the five hastamudras — Hamsasyam, Ardhachandra Tripataka, Mushti and Vardhamanakam and how they are used in Mohiniyattam. Here we are going to look into other hasta mudras.

Patakam (Pataka)

The first mudra mentioned in Hastalakshanadeepika is the Patakam hasta. This gesture can be seen in Abhinaya usages, mostly for communicating words or lyrics. However, the usage of Patakam hasta as a nrutta hand gesture is also seen in adavus such as:

Dikkikinum Tha Kinnum (Dhaganum category)

Thangidu Thudhee Tarikita Dhimitaka

Thongu Thlangu Thadhim Gina (Samishram Category)

Mudrakhyam (Mudrakhya)

Mudrakyam is one of the most important hand gestures among Mohiniyattam Mudras. The gesture gives an aesthetic appearance to some of the Mohiniyattam body movements. Usage of it as a nrutta hasta varies in the different styles of Mohiniyattam.


Anjali mudra has been used both as a single hand gesture, and as a joined-hand gesture. This hasta is popularly used for offering prayers at the beginning of a class or performance and at the conclusion of the same. It is a mudra that evokes bhakti or devotion. As a single hand nrutta gesture, it is seen specifically in the Taganam adavus such as Thee Tha Thee Thee. It is also seen in a few other adavus as well.


In Mohiniyattam, Hamsapaksham hasta is used for a transition between any two nrutha hastas. It is not unusual for Hamsapakshakam, Anjali and Tripatakam to be interchanged as nrutta hastas. This depends on the practice and style of Mohiniyattam.


Suchimukham (Suchimukaham) is used rarely as a nrutta hasta. But holding the right hand in Suchimukham at the corner of right eye is a popular posture used commonly in the dance form.

Artists: Kapila Venu, Bindu Rajendran, Sandra Pisharody and Neelima P

Photo Courtesy: Natanakairali Archives

Assisted by Sreekanth Janardhanan

Assisted by Sreekanth Janardhanan

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Guru Nirmala Paniker is a danseuse, choreographer and researcher of repute. She established Natanakaisiki, the dance research and training wing of Natanakairali.

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