Eastern Slavic Gesture Language – What Does It Mean?

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Why do we tear the chest of the shirt, throw our hats down on the ground and show fig sign? Let’s figure out the Russian national gesture language according to Russkaya Semyorka.

Throwing a hat on the ground

Is an expressive gesture meaning that someone is ready for an extreme action. The reason for this was that the hatwear symbolized honour and integration in society. By the way, there was even a kind of public punishment by taking a hat off a debtor’s head. If a person did it by himself without force it was a demonstration of crazy intentions. In case of a failure, a person could be exiled from the society.

Scratching the nape

Russian men scratch their napes in case of puzzlement. The question is why? It was scarcely used for brain stimulation. One of the versions says this gesture came from the folk magic: using it our ancestors called their primogenitors.

Tearing the chest of the shirt

It was probably used as a spontaneous oath. According to one hypothesis, it was an expressive sign of belonging to Orthodox religion by showing a cross on a chest. Besides, it’s known that during executions and some corporal punishments, executioners teared the chest of the accused’ shirt. So doing it on voluntary basis meant the person was ready to die for truth and faith.

Beating in one’s chest

One version says this gesture came from the nomad’s military traditions and was brought by Tatar-Mongol. These punches were used to show someone’s loyalty.

Sign of the horns

This sign mistakenly related to the criminal gesture or to metal and hard rock fans. But in fact it counts over several thousand years and was associated  with the protection from black magic. Moreover, ancient Greek speakers used it during their performances.

Fig sign

In fact, this gesture is typical for many cultures. It were Germans who introduced this sign to Russian people. They tried to seduce local girls by showing it. There’s even a version that Fig occured from the German expression “fick-fick machen” (traditinal German invitation to intimal affinity). But in Russian culture it turned out into symbol of emphatic refuse by a woman.

Clicking on the neck

This gesture came from Russian drinking tradition and was born in officer’s society. It was invented by the colonel Raevky. An interesting fact that this sign was also used by bootleggers during the dry law, established by Nicolay II in 1914.

What do you think?

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