There are a number of hand seals in Naruto that are used to perform jutsus. I know that the seals themselves have different zodiac signs. Is there any lore or historical basis for these seals, or was it invented by the creators of Naruto?

Hand seals

  • just out of curiosity, I'd say that he is Obito, but which jutsu is he performing?
    – Rinneg4n
    Feb 8, 2014 at 13:12
  • Since he is an Uchiha and his last sign is Tiger I think it's safe to assume it's a Fireball technique. I'm not sure if we have ever seen Obito perform Earth-style jutsus. naruto.wikia.com/wiki/Hand_Signs#Basic_Hand_Seals
    – Gravinco
    Nov 23, 2017 at 9:56

4 Answers 4


The hand seals in Naruto are based in Mudra, which are symbolic/ritual gestures associated to Hinduism and Buddhism. Mudra are used in everyday life, from religious practices to dances, going through martial arts as well. The most well-known Mudra is probably Añjali Mudrā, which often accompanies the greeting Namaste.
In the French version of the Mudra Wikipedia page, they do indeed link directly to Naruto's hand seals page, unlike what happens in the English page. However, they don't add much info other than the fact that they are called Mudra, and that they're based on the Chinese Zodiac.

From Wikipedia's page on Mudra, on its use on Martial Arts (highlight by me):

One of the more curious things that I encountered in my martial arts training was the use of mudra in combative arts. Mudra (Japanese: in), for those who aren't familiar with them, are these weird hand gestures that are derived from esoteric Buddhism (mikkyo), particularly the Tendai and Shingon sects. These gestures are supposed to generate spiritual focus and power which then are manifested in some way externally.

However, as far as I know (and also according to this page) the use of Mudra in Ninjutsu is made up by Kishimoto (once again, highlights by me):

Although the use of hand seals in ninjutsu is entirely made up by Kishimoto, seals are used as ways to focus energy during Buddhist meditation. Also, special hand signs, called mudras, are used to convey a certain concept into the user. For example, a right hand raised with palm facing outwards means “no fear”, and grants the user that concept’s blessing through their meditation. The seals in Naruto are from the oriental zodiac, the 12 animals which name the years (I was born in the year of the snake, for instance), the properties of each seal representing what that animal’s qualities are - Eg, Tora/Tiger seal is fire.

Basically, in real life hand seals are used in meditative practice, and are supposed to help the user get into a certain state of mind.
In the Naruto universe, Kishimoto decided to use these ancient signs in a different way (associated to Ninjutsu), but their purpose is basically the same. The user performs hand seals in order to gather/mold chakra, which means that he is entering a certain state of mind when he does so. Also, when a user masters a jutsu he needs to perform less/no signs before he can do it, which means that the meditation phase before the use of the jutsu can be skipped/sped up. Similarly, the more one meditates, the easier it gets for him to get into a state of meditation.
So they are basically based in an existing concept, but used in a different context (in Ninjutsu), with basically the same function.

For more info in Mudra, also see this page.


Naruto hand signs or seals are based on something called Mudra. Mudra originated from Yogic Philosophy because they would use Mudra for meditation or other symbolic reasons.

Mudra were used to help yogis and Monks to become spiritually enlightened by using mudra to channel the life force energy of a person within a certain way.

Later on, the information on mudra spread to different parts of China via Daoism and overall Buddhist teachings.

Mudra were used by people in Mikkyo Buddhism aka Esoteric Buddhism. Samurai and Ninjas would use these techniques almost like a battle meditation they'd use before missions.

In my opinion, most of these mudra are somewhat modified or based on Daoist/Buddhist hand seals that exist.

Heres a link to mudra that look similar to the Naruto Mudras!: http://www1.plala.or.jp/eiji/sub6.htm

I forgot to add the kuji kiri/ or kuji in part too. kuji are hand gestures and mantra people used to invoke a high level of concentration within a person.


They are based on kuji-in. Similar to, but not mudras.

Mudras are learned around peace and happiness while kuji-in are developed to handle danger and battle. "Mudras is to qigong" as "kuji-in is to budo taijutsu or karate".

  • 1
    Welcome to Anime & Manga! This seems a good starting point for an answer. However, you can still edit to improve this answer further, perhaps by explaining some of the history of it, and the relation with Naruto (e.g. is it a common technique used by ninja, or actually unrelated?)
    – Aki Tanaka
    Nov 23, 2017 at 3:30

They are from Taoism.

The author has said they come from Taoism. No one knows and everyone says they are Hindu or Buddhism. If you just compare the patterns of the movements, you can see the similarity. In Naruto, they are modified a bit from the original but see a similarity much more than mudra.

  • 1
    Welcome to Anime.SE! You say that Kishimoto himself said that the hand seals come from Taoism; can you provide a source for that? If you can, I think that would make it definitive.
    – F1Krazy
    Sep 24, 2021 at 11:43

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