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Migration of gestures: the process of decoding Indian dance mudras in Christian context 
Maria Caterina Mortillaro (Università di Milano Bicocca)
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Tuesday 14 August, -
Time zone: Europe/Stockholm

Short Abstract:

This lab offers the chance to go through the process of decoding I experienced during my research about the gestures of Indian dance and their migration in the Christian context. This method involves embodiment, elicitation and drawing. To participate, please preregister via mcmortillaro(at)

Long Abstract:

The language of gesture (mudras) of Indian dance is very dense and stratified. Such as in the language of the dumb, each gesture has multiple meanings depending on the context. They are related to the complex system of meanings of Hinduism and Indian culture. Thus, the migration of these gestures into the Christian context leads to the overlaying of new connotations coming from a different religious environment. For example, the most important personalities of the Bible and some theological concepts are depicted with a combination of mudras called deva hastas.

When I had to decode Christian Indian dances, I combined different methods. First I tried to learn the gestures through my body. Then I draw the most important Christian deva hastas in order to fix them. Finally, I filmed the dances and started a work of elicitation with my interlocutors.

In this lab I invite the participants to go through the same path. They will perform the mudras and learn the main meanings of them. I will show them some of my drawings. They will try to understand the meaning of some deva hastas. Then, I will show them some videos, encouraging them to formulate an explanation on the basis of what they have learnt. At the end, I will invite the participants to imagine a way to depict some simple passes of the Bible using some of these gestures.

Timing: 105 min long.

To preregister, please email mcmortillaro(at)