Isabella Whitworth

probably more than natural and synthetic dyes, wax, resists, and history

India Freehand

6 Comments

kolambull

Sketchbook pages from Madurai showing kolam designs recreated after photographing in situ

I’m recently back from a few weeks in Tamil Nadu, Southern India and this post strays from dyes and textiles to celebrate kolam. Kolam are the daily drawings drawn freehand at the threshold of houses by women, using rice flour. Designs are sinuous or angular; sometimes figurative, but usually abstract. They incorporate lines enclosing series of dots called pulli. Kolam can be found in many parts of India, where they are known by other names, such as rangoli and muggulu.

Kolam have religious and ornamental significance and there are several websites devoted to explanations on their history, making and meaning – as well as their complex mathematics. I’ve put some links below but I warn you, it’s addictive stuff.

I began to photograph kolam in Tamil Nadu because I was instantly attracted to them for their apparent simplicity, only to find them much too complex to sketch accurately in a busy, scorching street. I photographed them so that I could study them in more depth and back at the hotel I found the internet generous with explanations and video demonstrations. Thus I realised (duh) that the dots were not the embellishments I had at first thought. They were the key to the structure of each kolam and created a guide for freehand drawing of the design.

One of my courses teaches students to create patterned scarves and shawls on silk using wax resist. I discourage students drawing a design onto the silk with pencil or a textile marker to follow with wax or fluid resist. Apart from being difficult to remove, it normally saps fluidity and freedom from the drawing. I have taught that the use of small guide marks can greatly assist freehand drawing on the silk. With some experience of kolam structure I will be able to pass on these examples as inspirational freehand, yet guided, drawings.

Websites: Kolam information:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolam

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-significance-of-the-artwork-of-Kolam-or-Rangoli-What-are-some-interesting-facts-about-them

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/article/Childhood-Education/305838937.html

Kolam videos

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6 thoughts on “India Freehand

  1. Isabella,was hoping to see some Indian sketches..so fascinating..I did do my homework while you were there! any chance of a few more Sketch book pages?..not for the world..just little Ol me!!! Lots of love Eva

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. As always, Isabella, a fascinating slant on your Indian trip, I knew nothing about this, so thanks for sharing. I bet you forgot to bring me back a pebble though!!

  3. Reblogged this on mndigo and commented:
    This came across my screen, just as we are searching for ways to use surface design in our Indigo Tablecloths. Fascinating freehand drawing, with dot guides.

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