Contents: Preface. Introduction. 1. Socio-religious background: Hindu festivals, vratas and rituals. 2. Socio-cultural aspects of kolam: symbols, labyrinth and tattoo. 3. Ethno-archaeology of kolam: geometry, form and function. 4. Epilogue: the logic of relationship appendices. Glossary. Bibliography. Index.
Kolam is propitious threshold drawings by women defining religious and cultural space in South India. Integrating the entire Tamil community in kinship, ephemeral kolam structure is precise and beautiful prayer for protection and prosperity. Aesthetic experience of kolam is in its symmetrical composition that correlates with our concept of the cosmos. In the geometric grid of kolam the number of dots called pulli algorithmically guides the number of crossings that requires overall smoothening of edges in the design. Large number of infinite knot pattern follows a set of elegant mathematical rules that is at the same time artistic. According to Marcia Ascher, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Ithaca College, the Principles of Numbers in kolam is dynamics and motion in matter demonstrating multiplicity of the void. Kolam drawings trace unilinear path with singular regularity expressive of polyrhythmic music. Dancer Chandralekha observed that kolam is a kind of yoga. Kolam as an art form has entered computer graphics, ethnomathematics and ethnomusicology, textile industry, therapeutic applications and tactile spatial education for visually challenged. The pervasive threshold drawing of Tamil Nadu are unique but at the same time kolam is extendable to the tradition of tracing patterns in sand produced by several cultures in Africa and South Pacific islands as well as to the brilliant mosaics of ancient Rome.