April 5, 2014 by katmcdaniel
People around the globe draw inspiration from nature to decorate their homes and workplaces. What lies beneath this creative impulse?
Rangoli is an esteemed folk art which is known by many names across the Indian subcontinent where it originated, including Kolam, Muggu, Mandana, Alpana and Chowkpurna. Families make patterns from materials such as rice flour, sand, chalk or flower petals to adorn floors at doorsteps and in courtyards and living rooms. In their original context, Rangoli were made by women as sacred welcome mats for Hindu deities and were generally geometric and floral, although they might feature depictions of gods and goddesses. The beauty and creativity of their design has expanded to include other forms and even faith traditions. In some regions of India a home without a Rangoli is considered a very sad and unloved place.
Some of these designs have been passed down for centuries, representing the unique signature of a particular family, while others are flights of fancy. As in all forms of art, there is value in both tradition and improvisation.
Kolam is a traditional form which originated in the southernmost Indian state of Tamil Nadu, usually consisting of repeating symmetrical patterns laid out over a grid of dots. Every day, millions of Indian women rise early to make Kolam before dawn. These creations are then ready to be walked on, rained on or blown by the wind as the day progresses, a symbol of the impermanent beauty of life.
In addition to decorative and sacred use, Kolam have also been used to draw ants out of the home and to draw birds and small animals to the doorstep to feed. As much as human beings seek to protect themselves from nature, we always seem to desire a relationship with it. Closed geometric forms have been favored because they are believed to prevent evil spirits from entering the home.
In areas where they are not made every day, Rangoli are made during Hindu festivals, such as Diwali, Onam, and Pongal, as a welcoming gesture and a talisman for good luck. Marriages and community gatherings also frequently feature intricate and rich patterns.
As with all decoration, there is no doubt that Rangoli is a means to show wealth and prosperity. We may be impressed by costly materials in huge, elaborate designs, but the simplest drawing can sometimes be the most powerful to the eye and the heart.
Rangoli celebrate natural forms as matrices that draw inspiration. The wonder of the world around us creates space for human creativity and happiness. The more sterile and bland things around us become, the less we experience them. What does your creativity and art invite into your life?
One of the most poignant elements of Rangoli is community involvement. Families and friends come together to make them, laboring together to create beauty for themselves, as well as for neighbors and visitors. This is also our mission here at synkroniciti. We hope that you feel inspired to make something new today.