Voyage dans l’imaginaire Indien, Kolam, dessins éphémères des femmes tamoules.

Posted by Chantal Jumel

I am happy to share with you the release on august 13th of my book on south Indian Kolam. The English version is on the way and the title will be “Journey into Indian imagination, kolam, ephemeral drawings of Tamil women”

Voyage dans l'imaginaire indien

Extract from the introduction translated by Isabel Putinja

Welcoming the day

 “What a wonderful way to welcome the day: with drawings made of rice flour. It doesn’t matter what you make of it at first glance, a kôlam attracts your attention because of its exquisite patterns. Seen through my western eyes, they remind me of delicate lace doilies. The many thread-like drawings also evoke the ephemeral decorations made of carpets of coloured sawdust or flowers during the Christian festival “corpus Christi”. Something truly surprising happens when a woman’s hands trace these beautiful patterns on the ground and the rice powder meets the dust of the earth.

 A stroll at dawn through the towns and villages of Tamil Nadu requires not only an attentive eye which attempts to make out the surroundings, but also a sharp ear. Almost imperceptibly, objects take shape and welcome the birth of a new day, taking on an appearance which is at once resonant, fluid and rhythmic. The chirping of nocturnal insects and cawing of crows is followed by the rustling sounds made by straw brooms and the slapping noise of water being thrown onto the ground horizontally from metal basins. The tiny drops are suspended for the fraction of an instant, forming a transparent veil which falls softly to the ground or bounces joyously onto the pavement.

In the half-light, women holding boxes of white powder call out to each other while sizing up the spot where their drawings will come to life. Bending from the hips and keeping the back at a sharp angle, the women’s wrists provide a rhythmical control to their fingers as they create evenly spaced rows of discreet dots of rice flour or quartz powder, called pulli in Tamil. It is on this dotted line of perfect symmetry that flowers, birds and deities or geometrical patterns will emerge…”

© Copyright 2013 Chantal jumel

Isabel has a wonderful blog and we met for an interview on kolam

http://www.indiaoutsidemywindow.com/2013/01/chantals-passion-for-kolams.html

 

How to draw padi kolam or kolam with lines

Posted by Chantal Jumel

The line kolam are drawn using parallel lines which cross over at right angles or diagonally. They may start from a dot or a square and form basic structures such a square, a circle, a cross with diagonals, a swastika or two superimposed triangles. To enlarge a padi kolam, we add a series of parallels lines from which new lines join the preceding ones. Around the design, lotuses, conches or other ornamental motives complete the kolam.

These patterns are more abstract and celebrate the upstrokes and downstrokes of Hindu philosophical speculations.  Undeniably, the outlines organized around the center draw the eyes towards the heart of the drawing. Like a yantra or a mandala, negative powers are prevented from entering by the very presence of four stylized gates facing the cardinal directions. The center of a padi kôlam is never left blank and we find one or several dots, diagonal lines, the sun and the moon, a pentagon or a star hexagon.