Monday, November 24, 2008

when hands dance to make skies and airs...

wind: hold hands, backs up, near body about height of shoulders, both hands at same height, nearly the same horizontal plane, fingers extended and slightly separated, hands a few inches apart. move hands outwards with a wavy motion in the direction the wind blows. the movement is sometimes accompanied with a blowing of the breath.

aurora borealis: hold both hands, backs down, well out in front of body, hands partially closed, ball of thumb pressed against nails of fingers. raise the hands, at the same time extend and separate fingers and thumb with a partial snap, to indicate flashes of light in the northern sky. it is better to also face towards the north.

rain: hold closed hands, backs up, in front of body, about height of head, the hands near each other, same height. lower the hands slightly, mostly by wrist action. at the same time open, nearly extended, and separate fingers and thumbs. in this position fingers point about and downwards. repeat motion two or three times.

star: bring extended hands, backs up, well out in front of body, fingers pointing to front, right hand very little higher than left, hands about the height of breast and several inches apart. move right hand to left, left to right, turning hands slightly by wrist action, so that fingers of right hand point to left and front, left hand to right and front, terminating movement when wrists are crossed. next form an incomplete circle with index and thumb, space of about half an inch between tip of index and thumb. raise hand upwards towards the heavens. to represent many stars, sometimes both hands are used for the second part, and pushed up in different directions. to denote any star of particular brilliancy, such as the morning star, the hand is help towards the direction where the star is supposed to be, then the tip of the index finger pressed against the ball of the thumb and snapped two or three times to denote the twinkling.

from 'the indian sign language', w.p. clark, 1884.

since it's thanksgiving week, i think i'll post some things related to american indians. here some more wonderful hand signs from clark's incredibly detailed descriptions of indian signs, all for things that happen in the sky. the idea that a snapping sound denotes twinkling is unbelievably beautiful. i've tried all of these and they can become a kind thai chi for the hands, and are quite wonderful hand activities for those stuck inside on a rainy day, or simply waiting...

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