The Tamils of India

Posted by
Mike Kremer on Jan 01, 2002 at 02:00 (

Tamil Nadu, is the southernmost state of the Indian subcontinent. The Tamil language is the oldest attested member of th Dravidian family of languages which is particularly predominant in Southern India The Tamils, produced, among other things, a certain kind of literature that is quite similar to German "Minnesang" and the French Troubadour poetry - about a thousand years before these appeared in the High Middle Ages in Europe.

Tamil culture has always included diverse fields of science, such as grammar, philosophy, theology, medicine, and architecture.
Like most Indians they are particually adept in the mathematics.

The Kolam Tradition
A tradition of figure-drawing in southern India expresses mathematical ideas and has attracted the attention of computer scientists recently.

The "kolam" is the most important kind of female artistic mathematical expression in India. In every traditional Tamil home, regardless of caste or religion, girls are taught this art from their early childhood onwards. The skill in drawing mathematical "kolams" is still one of the criteria on the basis of which a potential bride is judged in rural areas.
Early at sunrise, women and girls clean the ground in front of their houses with water and *cow dung in order to draw a kolam there. They first outline an intricate geometrical pattern with individual dots, and then draw lines around these dots. Ideally, a kolam consists of one single uninterrupted line.

*It is well known that cow dung dissolved in water is regarded as a purifying substance that also keeps off insects (mosquitoes, etc). In the villages, people clean the ground in front of the entrance to their mud cottages as well as the floor inside with this mixture. According to Hinduist traditions, all substances from the cow (including dung and urine) are considered to be sacred and (ritually) purifying.

To see 6 of these beautiful drawings

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