The Kolam Tradition
The content you've requested is available without charge only to active Sigma Xi members and American Scientist subscribers.
If you are an active member or an individual subscriber, please log in now in order to access this article.
If you are not a member or individual subscriber, you can:
The women of Tamil Nadu in southeastern India traditionally cover their thresholds every morning with elaborate designs drawn with rice powder. Girls learn the ritual from their mothers and other female relatives, and kolam skills are considered a mark of grace, dexterity, discipline and concentration. Drawing the kolam figures is an important part of the Tamil Nadu culture and landscape. But with their orderly and often highly symmetrical designs, which frequently group into families, kolams are also expressive of mathematical ideas. In the last few decades, kolam figures have attracted the attention of computer scientists interested in describing images with picture languages. Different picture languages have been developed to describe different kolam families.