Page:Pre-Aryan Tamil Culture.djvu/51

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49 DECORATION The artistic instincts of the Indian people expressed themselves in the form of personal decoration by means of dress and ornaments. Love of decorating not only the person but of every article, has been the inspiring motive of Indian art throughout the ages. Their dwellings were decorated with colour drawings, as is proved by the fact that palettes, and pencils have been found in Stone Age settlements and that even to-day painting on walls and covering the floor daily inside and outside houses with most elaborate designs in coloured powders is practiced. The custom is so old that only on occasions of a death in the house, is it temporarily suspended. Such adornment of the floor is called kolan, which word means beauty, ornaments, embellishments, costumes, trappings, and kolam bunaippen, 2 or vannamagal, 3 is the girl who is expert in embellishment, also a lady's dressing maid. This is one of many ancient Indian customs that is dying out on account of the impact of Western civilization; our ladies are struggling to keep up the custom, but our young girls are being no inore apprenticed to our matrons for being trained as kolam bunaippen. As the soul-less type-design buildings constructed by the D.P.W., are destroying taste in architecture, so the education that is given in our girls' schools is killing out the ancient Indian art of house decoration, which now exists only in the villages round celebrated temples and which can be witnessed only on occasions when the temple God is brought out in procession. Every article of domestic furniture was decorated with art work. Stone articles were inade in the shape of tortoises, fishes, heads of Cows, etc. and their surface decorated with lines. All articles of wood were filled with wood carving in various designs. Most of these designs were based on the parts of the lotus plant. The lotus is a plant, every part of which is useful to man; its flower, its seed, its root and its stem are edible and also used in Indian medicine. Its stem and flowers and leaves are used for purposes of decoration. Hence the shape of its leaf and flower and of its stem and seed were combined in various ways to make designs for carving in wood or metal. Every part of the house was ornamented with such carvings: the doorframe, the doors, beam-ends, every part of a pillar, its base, its body, its cornice, was filled with beautiful carvings. When stone was substituted for wood as material for all this work, designs for woodcarving were transferred to stone, though it is very difficult to copy on stone the kind of carving suited to wood. Not only fixtures but also all movable articles were filled with decorative carving. Sitting and other planks had many designs cut on them; lotus flowers, cut in metal, were used to make them look pleasing to the eye. All household utensils of wood or metal were works of art. Drinking vessels and water-pots were not only made of the most artistic shapes but were decorated with line-drawing and carving ; this continues to be so except in towns where the ugly machine-made products of modern European factories are slowly displacing the pro. ducts of ancient Indian art-work and the artistic sense of the Indian people being slowly choked out. to man; its plant. The lo flowers and ledible and also in weed wer. Her and part of ways to make ower and of its poses of deco 2Gornb. கோலம் புனைப்பெண்.