Tag Archives: Hands

Chirologia, or The Natural Language of the Hand (1644) | The Public Domain Review

handlanguage

Is gesture a universal language? When lost for words, we point, wave, motion and otherwise use our hands to attempt to indicate meaning. However, much of this form of communication is intuitive and is not generally seen to be, by itself, an effective substitution for speech.

John Bulwer (1606 – 1656), an English doctor and philosopher, attempted to record the vocabulary contained in hand gestures and bodily motions and, in 1644, published Chirologia, or the Naturall Language of the Hand alongside a companion text Chironomia, or the Art of Manual Rhetoric, an illustrated collection of hand and finger gestures that were intended for an orator to memorise and perform whilst speaking.

For Bulwer, gesture was the only from of speech that was inherently natural to mankind, and he saw it as a language with expressions as definable as written words. He describes some recognisable hand gestures, such as stretching out hands as an expression of entreaty or wringing them to convey grief, alongside more unusual movements, including pretending to wash your hands as a way to protest innocence, and to clasp the right fist in the left palm as a way to insult your opponent during an argument.

Although Bulwer’s theory has its roots in classical civilisation, from the works of Aristotle, he was inspired by hundreds of different works, including biblical verses, medical texts, histories, poems and orations, in order to demonstrate his conclusions.

Source: Chirologia, or The Natural Language of the Hand (1644) | The Public Domain Review

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Dance of Her Hands: Tilly Losch

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Tilly Losch was born on November 15, 1903 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary as Ottilie Ethel Losch.

Trained in dance at the Vienna Imperial Opera ballet school at age six and became a full member of the ballet corps at age 15.
Dance partners included Fred Astaire and Harald Kreutzberg.
Following a severe bout of depression, she turned to painting for self-expression and exhibited her work for a long period of time.
Second husband was the Earl of Carnarvon, whose father discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb. This marriage gave her the title Lady Carnarvon, an English countess.

She appeared in the original Broadway stage version of “The Band Wagon”, in which she danced with Fred Astaire.

Hand Symbolism & Beliefs

Lots of information on Hand Symbolism on this page, from various cultures and belief systems.

“The ancients attached special occult significance to every part of the human body. The symbolism of the human hand alone may fill several volumes. Symbols may signify abstract or concrete concepts, imaginative or real events, natural or “supernatural” phenomena, spiritual or material principles. In what we have found, the ancient sages and philosophers made used of the hands to portray and symbolize many things of worth to the evolving soul. They taught many things using the hands as similitude, allegories, analogies, and examples.

The left and right hands were often represented for the many polarities that we find and experience in life. For instance, hot/cold, high/low, darkness/light, etc. ”