Hand Gestures (PIC, August 1943)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Thu Aug 23 21:09:26 UTC 2001

   From PIC, 3 August 1943, pg. 34:

_Jimmy Savo, Cafe Society star, demonstrates gestures_
(The following are photo captions--ed.)

_JIMMY SAVO_ waggles pants pockets in gesture indicating poverty.  An Americanism, it was called "the Hoover salute" during the depression.

(Pg. 35--ed.)

_AN ANCIENT_ Danish coin shows Thor, the God of Thunder, thumbing his nose in this fashion.  In World War I, gesture was called "German salute."

_ONE FOREFINGER_ whittling the other accompanies the expression, "For shame."  Chirosophers call this gesture "the finger of scorn sharpened."

_TWIDDLING THUMBS_ indicate inaction, boredom, bemusement.  Like many gestures in use today, this was employed in same sense in ancient Rome.

_JIMMY SAVO_ expresses determination to get revenge in a gesture of Italian origin, having the same meaning as a hand drawn across the throat.
(The first finger is being bitten--ed.)

(Pg. 36--ed.)

_HANDS WAGGLED_ as though to indicate a donkey's ears question the good sense of person gestured to.  Another slur on sanity is cast by single finger revolved around temple.  The "cornuto" gesture, signifying cuckoldry, consists of forefingers extended from forehead in token of horns.

(Pg. 37--ed.)

_JIMMY SAVO_ expresses contempt, disdain, with a snap of the fingers. Ancient statues depict this gesture, known to Romans as "percussio digitorum."
(The photo looks like "the finger."  It's curious why that wasn't shown or mentioned in the article--ed.)

_DOUBT, MISTRUST_ are expressed by forefinger along nose.  Alternate version is to place finger under eye and query, "See any green there?"

_THUMBS-DOWN_ gesture derives from Roman audiences who turned thumbs in or out to denote mercy or death sentence to defeated gladiator in arena.

_QUINTILIAN, 1900 years ago, described this gesture as being "graceful in approving."  It's used in Ballantine's beer and Pinaud's hair-tonic ads.
("O.K." sign--ed.)

(I'll probably check his clipping file in the Lincoln Center library in a few months--ed.)

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