Today I read Sharon's Post of 17/March titled Tessellation toy online.She has given very helpful links to sites on Tessallations.Tessallations are practised in India as a tradition called Kolam in Tamil.It is a Pan-Indian artform where the ground/floor is decorated with designs drawn with white rice powder or paste(diluted)or stone powder.Sometimes coloured powders are also used.It is one of the 64 artforms an educated person should know (atleast in the medieval times ie.c.I BC.E. to 10 B.C.E.)Both men and women were adept in this art.For the past few centuries it has been reserved exclusively for the Woman of the house ie.the Grihini;but she is expected to learn it before she is married,so that she would be an accomplished Kolam artist by the time she was married.Infact ,it was considered as a mark of her Intelligence to be adept in Kolam Drawing!Nowadays a man would not know anything about this art.He considers it surprising that there is anything of note in the humble Kolam which is noticed only in its absence.It is one of the details only burglers notice.(b'cos a house whose residents are away wont have a fresh Kolam drawn in front of the entrance.)All the inmates of a house(with the exception of the woman who drew it)do not notice the Kolam.But if the "artist"were to mess her work,it will immediately be noticed,commented upon ,criticised,ridiculed etc.,leaving the person concerned quite in tears!?! These days not all girls are willing to learn this art form from her elders.Doing Kolams is looked down upon(very slightly) and is considered as being"too girly"by the present generation of Jeans-wearing Teenagers.
Kolam-The Traditional Floor Drawing of South India gives a fairly good overview of this Tradition of ours.I wish I knew how to create those computer generated Kolams!Nowadys,some Men are also showing a lot of interest in the way Kolam deals with Mathematical subjects/problems.One is ,as mentioned above,Tessallations;other areas are fractals,progressions,Spiral geometry[(?)i'm not sure of the correct terms,as i'm not into Math]and computing, too.This site gives further informative links on kolams.
Beyond Mathematics,Kolams touch on the subjects of Art, Religious Rituals,Spirituality,Anthropology,Sociology and Psychology.I will deal with them in subsequent posts.