Mirror of Gesture (Abhinaya Darpana)

translation by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy and Gopala Kristnayya Duggirala

Nandikeshvara (2nd century AD) is one the great theorists on stage-craft of ancient India, and his Abhinaya Darpana is a short compendium of Indian dramatic technique. The introductory pages by Coomaraswamy put the work in our modern context, addressing the needs of our contemporary mentality, and showing its relevance for all those interested in the performing arts or in art in general.

“The more deeply we penetrate the technique of any typical Oriental art, the more we find that what appears to be individual, impulsive, and ‘natural’, is actually long-inherited, well-considered, and well-bred. Under these conditions life itself becomes a ritual.”

“…no great art ever yet sprang into being out of nothing in a single generation. Art, and the general understanding of art, are always the result of a long, united, and consistently directed effort, and nothing can be done unless the artist and the spectator share a common inspiration.”

Click here to view the PDF (71 pages with illustrations, 2.3MB)