Mudrakhyam- A Visual Dictionary on Mohiniyattam Hand Gestures

Jan 01, 2013 to Jun 30, 2013 | Vol. 5, Issue 1 & 2
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 The book, 'Mudrakhyam’, authored by Sreedevi Rajan, daughter of the maestros of Indian Classical Dance - Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair and Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma explains all the fundamental hand gestures and their usages (Viniyogas) employed in Mohiniyattam.

Since last seven decades, Classical Dance forms of Kerala like Kathakali and Mohiniyattam have been using ‘Hasthalakshanadeepika’' as the original reference guide (Aadhaaragrandham). But in course of time, like any language or art form a quite a few new gestures have evolved. So, to support and understand them new reference guides were essential and it led to the creation of this new book ‘Mudrakhyam’ and is visual dictionary explaining the Hand gestures employed in Mohiniyattam.

In the preface to this book,  Dr. M Leelavathy mentions, “more than being the daughter and student of Kathakali maestro Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair and doyenne of Mohiniyattam, Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma, it is her higher education, lifelong experiences in this art form and of course inborn talent that enabled Smt. Sreedevi to write such a book and her students who are well known dancers in the field of Mohiniyattam are the testimony of her vast knowledge and teaching ability.”

The book explains all the fundamental gestures (24 as given in Hasthalakshana deepika and other eleven prevailing in Mohiniyattam at present) and their usages (Viniyogas) in Malayalam Slokas. Each line of the sloka is transliterated using international phonetics, so that even non-Malayalees can read and understand the book. The photographs in the book are helpful to understand the positioning of hands as well as eye movements in conjunction with facial expression, to certain extend.  At the end of each phase of the fundamental gesture, all words have been arranged in tables, in Malayalam alphabetical order with their English meanings. This helps one to decipher the English word for a particular Malayalam word used and also the definition of hand gestures depicted to express that word.

Other than the fundamental hand gesture descriptions and photographs depicting important characters of our Epics Ramayana and Mahabharatha, Devatha Hasthas, Dasavathara Hasthas, Bendhu Hasthas, Samkhya Hasthas etc. are also given. The artist cum author Sreedevi has also composed new gestures for some of the words which have no gestures to define Ahalya, Mandodari, Kumbakarna, Brahannala, grandfather, grandmother etc.  In this book Sreedevi has also interpreted some of the other gestures which are presented different ways by various people. She has also explained in her book the slight differences in some of the fundamental gestures.

Author: Sreedevi Rajan
Contributors: Jyotis Balasubramanian, Smitha Rajan, Pages: 196, Price: Rs.1250/-
Publisher: Kalyana Krishna Foundation, Kochi-682016, Kerala, Ph:91 484 2368525

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