Hinduism and Tribal Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Pankaj Jain, Rita Sherma, Madhu Khanna

Kōlam (Kolam)

  • L. E. Comeau
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_290-1



The kōlam (plural: kōlaṅkaḷ) is an auspicious threshold design, a geometric pattern applied to the entry way to a home or temple at the start of the day, just before sunrise. Kōlam design is practiced throughout southern India. In general there are two types of kōlams: one type, known as kampi kōlam uses snake-like lines that curve around but do not intersect with dots (puḷḷi) that are evenly spaced in grids, rather than weave between the dots, the other main style connects the dots, usually in radiating symmetrical patterns.

Kōlam designs and styles vary by region across south India, as well as by the artist’s neighborhood, village, and caste [2, 3]. Basic kōlam designs include rings, knots, and labyrinth-like patterns [5]. For example, paṭi kōlams made by brahmins from east coast of Tamil Nadu typically feature a central square shape [6]. The art and style of kōlams are passed down, from grandmother, mother, or aunt to their daughters. Kōlams mark and...

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HumanitiesUniversity of the SciencesPhiladelphiaUSA