|Almost all Balinese are able to bend their fingers backward from the base and also at the joint between first and second phalanges. Balinese children, especially little Balinese girls, spend a great deal of time playing with the joints of their fingers, experimenting with bending them back until the finger lies almost parallel with the back of the hand. The more coordinated and disciplined the motion of the body becomes, the smaller the muscle groups with which a Balinese operates. Where an American will involve almost every muscle in his body to pick up a pin, the Balinese merely uses the muscles immediately relevant to the act, leaving the rest of the body undisturbed (Bateson & Mead, 1942: 99).|
This flexibility finds its most beautiful expression in the hand-postures of dancers, most of which are derived from Indian mudras, although they do not have the symbolic and narrative meanings as in the Indian context, but purely ornamental functions.
Male baris dancers