Tuesday, 26 February 2008

my pretty kolam floor

My pretty floor is a fake kolam (15 dots)... Instead of challenging both patience and vanity by making the pattern like Indian women, who put their pretty work out to be destroyed by walking feet, I painted it. When I look at it now, I see I should fill in a few lost lines.

Kolams, a South Indian tradition, are symmetrical ornaments made by rural women, to decorate and sometimes celebrate. It's done at dawn, after sweeping the ground in front of the house and sprinkling a little water to keep the red dust in place.

I found Kolam Book number 1-10 at the market in Madurai, some ten years ago. Just looking at the books makes me happy. They connect to childhood memories of monogram letter books, to copy from for embroideries. I did learn how to write from them.

The everyday kolam is made with white powder (used to be rice powder) held in one hand and skillfully portioned. Dots first as guides for the eyes. They tell the hand where to gracefully dance in the air to release powder, so quick and light moves, and draw the line.

The basic pattern is a mathematical construction of beauty, one single line with no beginning and no end. Let's start with the easiest. Trick is to always count the dots in the grid; one two three:

Are you ready for some more complicated? These need 4 lines with 4 dots each, and show variations. Either the dots are connected with the lines or the lines run between them.

Think what great tool this is for rural Indian girls to practice math!
Need to scan some slides before I post more.
Only one link today, you need the time to practice.

Karin Östberg, ceramic artist and Konstepidemin neighbor, started a studio blog. Her work is like 3D kolams.


mansuetude said...

You are full of wonders, Bibbi...I travel into this space (what is it this space is, a blog?) and learn all the time.

These "math" lessons seem to me more spiritual practice lessons. On so many levels. The making of mandalas, the gesture of the hand shaping beauty, the practice of a woman's work--the daily sweeping up, trying to create a pattern of simple grace and weaving (and the notion of its impermanence). All right in your hand.

I will have to come back to understand the concept.
Love Karin Ostberg's work and glazes, that crackle white slip glaze reminds me of a friend here. Good memories.

asphalt and air said...

bibbi -

what a wonderful post. i so enjoyed reading it!
i adore the design on your floor.
thank you so much for the lesson in kolam. i would love to try it sometime!


Esti said...

This is great! I'm gonna try it all day at work!


Bibbi, I've always always been fascinated by Kolams.They're quite tricky to master and I know of people who can draw very very complicated kolams with just one long stroke.

Thanks for this post. As a South Indian It's always interesting for me to see how my culture is perceived, absorbed and translated by people from other cultures.

The tradition of kolam carries on in modern India in several Hindu households . I make one for Diwali (festival of lights) but thats a rangoli , which is a colouful, filled in version of the same (as you probably already know)

sandra said...

det här var kul att se bibbi! att måla på golv är mycket stimulerande, oavsett om det är mönster eller ej. gillar att man inte kan gå på det på ett tag efteråt. man kanske skulle utnyttja det och måla om golvet kring datorn då och då.

Anonymous said...
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Bibbi said...

Mansuetude, daily spiritual practice done by women's hands, yes!

Kristi, I'm so glad you liked it!

Esti, be careful, it's addictive!

Ms Masala Chai, thank you for filling in. It's also tricky to tell about others traditions, so you must tell me if I'm wrong! I loved the brand mandalas you posted last, will link!!

Sandra, bra förslag, mycket bättre än hänglås och taggtråd. Borde pröva med tonåringens.

I deleted one comment that directed to a suspicious webpage.

vlijtig said...

Hi Bibbi,

I didn't know kolam, but your post is very interesting and I'm going to practice.
Lovely blog!

Francesca said...

this is wonderful, beautiful patterns. great tutorial!

heather smith jones said...

Yes I'm totally surprised at the origins and making of this too Bibbi. They're lovely and I'm fascinated with this idea of dancing around dots with white powder, with an unending line. That is so poetic and full of meaning, and well, I shouldn't be surprised that you would be drawn to that aspect as well. :)

Bhavna Bhatnagar said...

What a beautiful post! I really enjoyed how you have described the making of a kolam so well.

P.S: The design on the wooden floor is lovely!

coloredsock said...

hey Bibbi, i'm here going thru your past month of posts and am kinda blown away with your blog. you are so good at inspiring others! i'll have to go thru all the links over the next week. there's just SO much. i'm loving your work, too. and i LOVE rangoli art! i've spent some time in India twice and swear next time to go to the south. i have lots of friends who travel their in the south and are always sharing photos of rangoli with me. it seems like such a meditation for the girls and women who create them. i'll be looking through the 'tutorial' you posted and will be anxiously awaiting a real life lesson the next time we're in India. i hope you are well! xojenny

Anonymous said...

hi Bibbi,
The patterns are really beautiful.Can you upload some more designs if you have? :)
Or do forward me at mrunalini.rahul@gmail.co,


Loganathan said...

Wonderful post. Where can I get the Kolam books?

Mando said...
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