Kathakali artists


Abhinaya means acting.

It is conveying the ideas and emotions of a script, song, or poem to an audience through gestures, expressions, and movements.

Abhinaya is Sanskrit means to carry towards.

Carrying of ideas and emotions towards the audience.

Carrying of ideas and emotions of the poet or writer towards the audience.

Ideas and emotions hitherto confined to text.

Abhinaya has got two essentials - rasa (flavour), and bhava (emotion).

Abhinaya is there both in drama, and dance.


Four kinds of abhinaya


  1. Angika - gestures and body movements.
  2. Aharya - costume, and makeup.
  3. Vachika - speech modulation.
  4. Satwika - tears, perspiration, etc.


Three types of angikabhinaya


  1. Sharirika - through bodily actions.
  2. Maukhika - through facial expressions.
  3. Cheshtakrita - through effort.


Four subdivisions of angikabhinaya


  1. Sakabhinaya - gestures of palms and fingers.
  2. Angabhinaya - with head, waist, hands, and legs.
  3. Upangabhinaya - with eyes, eyebrows, nose, lips, cheeks, and chin.
  4. Pratyangabhinaya - with shoulders, back, stomach, thighs, and knees.


Four types of aharayabhinaya


A lot of importance is given to dress, costume, and decoration in abhinaya.

It is very effective to convey the nature of a character through these.

The four types are -

  1. Pushta.
  2. Alankara.
  3. Angarachana.
  4. Sanjiva.


Eight elements of satwikabhinaya


  1. Stambha - stillness.
  2. Sveda - perspiration.
  3. Romancha - goosebumps.
  4. Swarabhanga - changing voice.
  5. Vaivarnya - changing color (becoming pale, etc.)
  6. Vepathu - trembling.
  7. Ashru - tears
  8. Pralaya - dead.

An accomplished actor would employ satwikabhinaya very effectively.

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