The Mirror of Gesture: Being the Abhinaya Darpana of Nandikeśvara

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Harvard University Press, 1917 - Dance - 52 pages
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I am a total novice regarding classical Indian dance, but as a sociologist and performance artist who has been using exaggerated American sign language I wanted to find illustrations and explanations of the mudras to see if I could incorporated them, my initial interest in sign language having begun with a search for an international one. I have ordered books which disappointed when they arrived because there was much philosophy but no illustrations.
I am very glad to have this, which is very satisfying as it is from a master from the 19th century, of whom I had actually heard, AND it has illustrations; that they are a century old lends that much more authenticity to them. I encourage people to order the book. I think it is available and not too costly
Peggy Powell Dobbins, Phd
sociologist artist

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Page 2 - ... profit to those who seek advantage, courage to the broken-willed ; replete with the diverse moods, informed with the varying passions of the soul, linked to the deeds of all mankind, the best, the middling, and the low, affording excellent counsel, pastime, weal and all else.
Page 17 - The song should be sustained in the throat ; its meaning must be shown by the hands ; the mood must be shown by the glances; rhythm is marked by the feet. For wherever the hand moves, there the glances follow; where the glances go, the mind follows; where the mind goes, the mood follows; where the mood goes, there is the flavour.
Page 3 - a deliberate art. Nothing is left to chance; the actor no more yields to the impulse of the movement in gesture than in the spoken words... precisely as the text of the play remains the same whoever the actor may be... so there is no reason why an accepted gesture language should be varied with a view to set off the actor's personality.
Page 2 - Devas (Celestials) but exhibits mood (Bhava) for all the three worlds. I made this play as following the movement of the world, whether in work or play, profit, peace, laughter, battle, lust or slaughter ; yielding the fruit of righteousness to those who follow the moral law, pleasure to those who follow lust, a restraint for the unruly, a discipline for the followers of a rule, creating vigour in the impotent, zeal in warriors, wisdom in the ignorant, learning in scholars, affording sport to kings,...
Page 9 - The arts are not for our instruction, but for our delight, and this delight is something more than pleasure, it is the godlike ecstasy of liberation from the restless activity of the mind and the senses, which are the veils of all reality, transparent only when we are at peace with ourselves. From the love of many things we are led to the experience of Union: and for this reason Tiruvenkatacari does not hesitate to compare the actor's or dancer's art with the practice of Yoga.
Page 3 - ... the actor's personality. It is the action not the actor which is essential to dramatic art. Under these conditions, of course, there is no room for any amateur upon the stage. In fact, the amateur does not exist in Oriental art".
Page 2 - Danavas (Titans) found that the drama depicted often their own defeat, they remonstrated with Brahma and this afforded occasion for an explanation of the true character and significance of dramatic art, not to flatter any party, but to represent the true and essential nature of the world.
Page 4 - Drama is that which accords with the order of the world, with its weal woe, and it consists in movements of the body and other arts of expression.' A treatise on Indian dramatic art — The Mirror of Gesture, translated by Coomaraswami — tells us that ' The perfect actor has the same complete command of gesture that the puppet showman has over the movements of his puppets. ' The exhibition of his art is altogether independent of his emotional condition. The perfect actor must wear the air of absolute...
Page 3 - The theatre is such as to afford a means of entertainment in the world, and a place of audience for the Vedas, for philosophy, for history, and other matters.
Page 11 - Indian, the dance, like any other art, has a spiritual significance independent of its theme or charm, for "by clearly expressing the flavour, and enabling men to taste thereof, it gives them the wisdom of Brahma, whereby they may understand how every business is unstable; from which indifference to such business, and therefrom, arise the highest virtues of peace and patience, and thence again may be won the bliss of Brahma.

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