Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I love kolams

It's great to see the new designs every single morning, it's surprising as well, some of them are so intricate and beautiful. People devote so much time every morning to a drawing that is going to fade that same day, until the next day when a new one will be made.

Kolam (in Tamil) is a decorative design drawn in a variety of sandpainting using rice powder or chalk by female members of the family in front of their home, especially near the threshold. A Kolam is a sort of painted prayer -- a line drawing composed of curved loops, drawn around a grid pattern of dots. Kolams are thought to bestow prosperity to the homes.

Every morning in southern India, millions of women draw kolams on the ground with white rice powder. Through the day, the drawings get walked on, rained out, or blown around in the wind; new ones are made the next day. Every morning before sunrise, the floor is cleaned with water, the universal purifier, and the muddy floor is swept well for an even surface. The kolams are generally drawn while the surface is still damp so that it is held better.

Decoration was not the sole purpose of a Kolam. In olden days, kolams used to be drawn in coarse rice flour, so that the ants don't have to work so hard for a meal. The rice powder is said to invite birds and other small critters to eat it, thus inviting other beings into one's home and everyday life: a daily tribute to harmonious co-existence. It is a sign of invitation to welcome all into the home, not the least of whom is Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity. The patterns range between geometric and mathematical line drawings around a matrix of dots to free form art work and closed shapes. Folklore has evolved to mandate that the lines must be completed so as to symbolically prevent evil spirits from entering the inside of the shapes, and thus are they prevented from entering the inside of the home.

I got myself a book to start learning but it's not easy when you try it on the floor, I'll start on paper and will keep photographing them in the meantime.


strika said...

Qué chido. Me imagino que hasta debe de ser una experiencia meditativa hacerlos. No sé si has visto una peli coreana de Kim Ki Duk en la que un monje budista pone a su discípulo a tallar mantras en el suelo para que así purifique su corazón.
En todo caso, al igual que tú, siempre he admirado la devoción con la que la gente hace ese tipo de cosas a sabiendas de que no van a perdurar.

CresceNet said...

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