all drawings in this section are by Heather Dixon

In the Delsarte system, the body is split into three parts:


Head:  These areas symbolize logic and reason. "Mental".

Heart:  Emotion and feeling.  Also known as "Moral."

Body:  Physical & passion.  Also known as "Vital."

Head = logic, torso = emotions/heart, and limbs = action & physical.

Each of these segments also have 3 segments of head, heart, and body.


With limbs, the hands and feet = the more logical parts.

Hands make gestures to show what we're thinking, feet tap when we're impatient, etc.

Forearms and calves, the more emotional, cradling babies, embracing, that sort of thing.  

The upper arms & legs are the vital, and the more in action they are, the more passionate the pose.

 The torso is split like this:

Shoulders as logic,

chest as moral/emotional,

and stomach & below as vital.

The head is split the same:

the eyes and above as the logic,

the cheeks & nose as emotional,

and the lips and chin as the action & vital.


The eyes are split:

pupil = head

iris = heart

white = body

(There are also divisions for the nose, mouth, around the eyes, etc)

Hands (the head part of the body section) also have three parts:

palm = body

back = heart

side = head

 So, it makes sense why holding the back of your hand to your forehead = romantic/ faint  (heart to head)  vs. palm of hand to head  is more logical. (”Do you have a fever?”)

The power & movement behind the head/heart/body divisions also had those three parts.  The more powerful and convex  is body, the least powerful, more head = concave, and the happy middle is the heart.

Delsarte took all these movements & pieces and created exercises and gestures that symbolized the characters' emotions & desires.