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Dance Tradition in the Making Between Manuscript and Print Culture


· Elisa Ganser University of Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland)


07/27 | 11:40-12:00 UTC+2/CEST


The first publication ever into English of a treatise on Indian dance is the Mirror of Gesture, translation of the Abhinayadarpaṇa by A. K. Coomaraswamy and D. Gopalakrishnayya, published in the United states in 1917. Although this translation became extremely popular among dance practitioner in the 20th c., it is too often forgotten that it was prepared on the basis of a previous printed edition of Nandikeśvara’s Abhinayadarpaṇa, prepared by Tiruveṅkaṭācārya and published in Madras in 1874, with reprints in 1887 and 1905. This edition of the Sanskrit text was published in Telugu script and accompanied by a Telugu gloss and illustrations for the hand gestures. Moreover, it was printed along with two other texts, the Bhārata Rasa Prakaraṇa a short treatise connected with the Nāṭyaśāstra with a Telugu translation, and some padams by Rāja Mannāru Guḍi Sabhāpatayya Gāru—a composer and dance master connected with the Thanjavur court of King Serfoji II (1798–1833)—replete with a Telugu commentary composed by Tiruveṅkaṭācārya. Taking cues from this tryptic of texts in one of the first print publications of texts on dance in the colonial period, this paper compares the textual practices displayed in them (translation of Sanskrit technical texts on dance, explanatory commentaries on padams, visual illustrations, etc.) with those preserved in the earlier manuscript tradition and in printed texts produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It discusses which philological practices are possibly inaugurated in the early printed editions, and which other are inherited from the previous textual transmission, and how these practices are mobilized in the making of a dance traditio