Dancing Hand Language in Jerde | World Anvil
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Dancing Hand

The Dancing Hand is a covert language of hand signals utilized by Eterlanian nobles and Narthican spies. Each word is composed of a short series of finger movements.  


The Dancing Hand is a fairly recent creation, within the last two hundred years. Before it was formed, nobles relied on wearing certain colors and holding certain things to send messages to their friends. Discreet hand signals started to be used more until somewhere in the late 1800s the sign language of the Dancing Hand was finally created.   For many years, the language was only used by Eterlanian nobles, mostly women, to gossip and pass secrets. However, several of their servants quickly learned the patterns and began to use them in their daily lives. The code was also passed onto a group of Whirlan nobles during a diplomatic visit. These women took the language with them to Narthica and taught it to their own friends. Similar to the Eterlanian servants, the women's servants soon figured out the signals. The Whirlan servants, however, had a different use for this code: spying.  
by Lilliana Casper
While Eterlanian countries remained mostly stable, Narthica went through many periods of both tension and peace. As the twenty-first century began, hopes were high for the countries to become friends again. During these years, the Dancing Hand spread in popularity in the Republic of Decrowed and also in Dicrices, where it was used by Decrowan rebels and refugees to Dicrices as a way to communicate with each other in dangerous situations.   After the Dalirn killed King Rendorik in the Assassination of Blood, Whirlan was controlled by them. Anti-Gifted laws were declared and enforced, causing an enormous rebellion to begin underground. These rebels, many of whom were nobles deposed by the new government, used the Dancing Hand as a way to communicate in
public. The small gestures were easy to disguise and difficult to learn without continued exposure.  

Gestures & Rules

The Dancing Hand utilizes two main styles of use: curls and taps. Curling fingers are used in the open with the signaler's hand at their side and tapping is done on tables and other hard surfaces in rooms. The actual hand gestures are short curls/taps, curls and taps during which the hand twists, pressing different fingers together, flipping the hand over, making a quick fist, and fluttering all fingers of the hand. It does not matter which hand is used as the gestures rely on the fingers.   There is an alphabet of signals, but it is rarely used in full. Instead, words are strung together to form sentences. Some words use the same gestures as letters (such as "I" and "me") and others are composed with the signals for the first two letters in the word (such as "green" using the signals for "G" and "R"). Names are spelled out in their entirety or sometimes shortened to a few letters.
The woman's finger's fluttered weakly on the ground, tapping and twisting in a frantic pattern. Cardan leaned closer to see and then jerked back. She was telling him to run.
— The White Rebellion
Sign language
Used for
Gossip; Espionage
Countries used in
Whirlan, Crystland, Dalirn, Ekrecht, Everlian
A servant's notes on common gestures by Lilliana Casper

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Cover image: by Lilliana Casper


Author's Notes

I've been working more on my other world, but I really wanted to write about this code before Summer Camp ends. I hope you like it!

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Aug 2, 2023 10:50 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

This is a great code, I did some practicing using the notes. :D

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Aug 7, 2023 13:39 by Lilliana Casper

Thank you for reading! I'm happy you liked it!

Lilliana Casper   I don't comment much, but I love reading your articles! Please check out my worlds, Jerde and Tread of Darkness.
Aug 14, 2023 22:49 by Julien P

Nice history and description of how the language works and evolved with cultures and events. I also like the little note with a few example to help visualize it even better.

Aug 16, 2023 15:36 by Lilliana Casper

Thank you! It's certainly a useful code for anyone who knows it!

Lilliana Casper   I don't comment much, but I love reading your articles! Please check out my worlds, Jerde and Tread of Darkness.