August 2011 Ezine - "Kolam" the popular Indian household art
" Warli Art" a popular Indian Tribal Art is very simple and not at all intimidating, you don't need any artistic skills to make one, if you can make a circle, triangle , and a square you can create warli art.
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Well so we are making news, its official....Dallas this year has a record high temperatures...(its been 100 +F for the last few weeks and if it continues to be soo till this weekend we would break the 1980 record of 100+F for continous 31 days) We have whole month of August before any signs of respite from the heat....
Back home in India August is the time for celebrations... a number of auspicious days and festivals (the birthdays of Lord SriKrishna and Lord Ganesha) and our Independence Day. Celebrations mean yummy delicacies and decorating our home to welcome the Gods.
Floor art is one most important forms of decorating homes in India. They are called by different names in different languages in India - Kolam in (Tamil) Tamil Nadu, Muggulu in (Telugu) Andhra pradesh, Rangavalli in (Kanada) Karnataka, Poovidal or Pookalam in (Malayalam) Kerala, Chowkpurana in Uttar Pradesh, Madana in Rajasthan, Aripana in (Bihari) Bihar and Alpana in (Bengali) Bengal and more commonly known as Rangoli in many parts of India. It is also interesting to note that each region has its own style and subject for patterns and drawings, also the floor art often becomes wall art in some regions.
Like North Indian Rangoli , is extremely colorful, while an average South Indian Kolam is all about, symmetry, precision and complexity, providing good exercise to your eyes and mind, if you wish to figure out how it was made.
Kolam is drawn using rice flour or rice floor paste or white stone sand by female members of the family in the front yard of their home. It is an ancient Indian art of small to elaborate patterns made of dots and lines. It is a household art, the skill and patterns are often passed on generation to generation, from mother to daughter so nobody can really put a date to the origin of this tradition or art (refence to this art has been made in both the ancient Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharta).
Being a south Indian my floor art drawings are usually a geometrical line drawings composed of curved loops, drawn around or guided by a grid pattern of dots. I learned my patterns from my mother, grandmother, cousins and school mates. But one of my neighbor a very old lady taught me few free hand floor art which were built on circles and were in the form of abstract flower. I enjoyed making them since I found them very creative and also because I did not had to remember the number or the sequence of dots for any of the patterns.
It is also considered the symbolic way of welcoming the guests and the Hindu God and Goddess into the house. Especially Lakshmi, the goddess of rice and wealth. The goddess has the power to attract prosperity and to prevent poverty from entering the home. So, Kolams are thought to bestow prosperity to homes.
On any regular day in southern India, women start their day with drawing kolams on the ground in front of their home with white sand. 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, he muddy floor is swept well for an even surface and the floor is cleaned with water, the universal purifier.The kolams are generally drawn while the surface is still damp so that it is held better. Occasionally, cow-dung is also used to wax the floors. In some cultures in India cow dung is believed to have antiseptic properties and hence provides a literal threshold of protection for the home. The muddy green cow dung provides contrast to the white powder.
my dear mum making Kolam in the front yard....Pic courtesy dad..
do you see yet another Kolam at the back...
It is believed, kolams is drawn with 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.
The ritual kolam patterns created for occasions such as weddings and temple ceremonies can stretch all the way down streets. During festivals they adorn not just the front yard but also the courtyard and backyard of the house. One month ahead of Sankranti (the Hindu Harvest festival )from around December 15 to Jan 15 women make exceptionally elaborate patterns the entire month as it is also a holy month in the Hindu calender.
With the advent of flats, apartment and super fast lives in major cities this art is slowly dying. Yet for now no wedding, festival or celebration is complete with out the floor art.
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Meet Sandhya Manne
Hey there... Glad to see you here!! I am a self-taught Indian Artist living in Chennai, India with my husband, and two little kids. I paint everyday at my home studio. While my predominant medium is oils and Ink drawings, I also enjoy creating mixed media.. Since the start of my art career in 2009, my artworks have been part of private collections in Canada, USA and India. I also have credit exhibiting through juried shows in Dallas-Fort Worth area. Learn More
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