Sri Lanka is simply a land of splendors. Romantic landscapes, wonderful cascades, lush greenery, sandy stretches, and what so not? All these features make up Sri Lanka as an island second to none. Besides, these are not the only aspects that entice millions of visitors towards this land. Sri Lanka’s harmonious entanglement of divergent cultures and its splendid religious attractions further enhances its grandeur. In addition, the delight of the traditional arts and crafts in Sri Lanka is just amazing. Thus, Sri Lanka happens to be much popular among aestheticians, and as well as among who love and appreciate these arts and crafts.
Indeed, the traditional arts and crafts in Sri Lanka hold a beauty of their own. Also, these traditional events are not overnight creations. They have been passed on from generation to generation. And today, here they are, shaped and colored magnificently. The touches of religions, beliefs, and mystifying diversity have been instrumental in this course. And why not? They also demonstrate the humble and decent artistic lifestyles of the Sri Lankans. Going beyond these traditional arts and crafts in Sri Lanka, are a significant aspect that reveals the creativity, and talents of the nation. All these together with their unique flavors, have been able to touch the hearts of visitors for decades and decades.
Moreover, these traditional arts and crafts manifest the pride of the Sri Lankan heritage and culture. The uniqueness that they hold, along with the historical values, makes their significance blossom. In addition, their dynamics and sentimental morals magnify their values more and more. Thus, let us guarantee you that the traditional arts and crafts in Sri Lanka are worth exploring. So excited to know about them more? We are sure you are. Continue reading and you will be amazed by their enchantments.
Main Elements of the Traditional Arts and Crafts in Sri Lanka
The traditional arts and crafts in Sri Lanka cover a comprehensive range of skills and thrills. If explored, what you discover with regard would certainly delight you. For the ease of traversing through the ecstasy of these arts, we thought of focusing on two main aspects. They are as follows.
1. Traditional Performing Arts in Sri Lanka
2. Traditional Art Designs and Crafts in Sri Lanka
So, ready for the enchantment? Why not, let us start our journey of exploring them in detail!
1. Traditional Performing Arts in Sri Lanka
Traditional Performing Arts in Sri Lanka spans over a wide scope. In brief, they embrace a wide variety of stunning music and dance. Hence we thought of sharing with you their main highlights. Let us start with Sri Lankan Traditional Dancing.
Traditional Dancing in Sri Lanka
The history of traditional dancing in Sri Lanka takes you back to the 4th century BC. As per the saga, dancing in that era had been mainly for two reasons. Either for expelling natural disasters and sicknesses in the country or for yearning blessings. However, along with Chola invasions during the 15th century, Sri Lanka has embraced folk dance. Thenceforth, the art of classical dance has evolved in Sri Lanka. Accordingly, today we witness a number of traditional dance forms in Sri Lanka. Let us have a quick glance at what they are.
- Classical dances
- Kandyan Dances (Udarata Natum)
- Ves Dance
- Naiyandi Dance
- Udekki Dance
- Pantheru Dance
- Low Country Dances (Pahatharata Natum)
- Pahatharata Devil Dances ( in Shanthikarma)
- Daha-Ata Sanniya (in Thowil Pevil)
- Sabaragamu Dances (Sabaragamu Natum)
- Sabaragamuwa Shanthikarma
- Dig Ge Natuma
- Kandyan Dances (Udarata Natum)
- Folk Dances
- Dance Drama
You might have surely been astonished by their names. Keep calm! Let us figure out what each of them are.
By now, you already know what a significant bond that the Sri Lankans had with dancing. Simply, they were an integral part of social life, bounded with beliefs. However, with time, along with the academic practices, they have now become performing arts. Duly, these traditional dances turned out to be classical dances with unique aesthetic values.
Classical Dances are indeed a significant landmark of Sri Lankan dance styles. At present, there are three main traditions of Sri Lankan classical dance. They are as follows.
- Kandyan Dances (Udarata Natum)
- Low-country dances (Pahatharata Natum)
- Sabaragamu Dances (Sabaragamu Natum)
In brief, each of these styles is unique in terms of rhythm, movements, and costumes. Why not? Let us move into brief descriptions of each of these classical dance styles.
Kandyan Dances (Udarata Natum)
If you have visited Sri Lanka, or even heard about this island, ‘Kandy’ might not be something new for you. It is one of the most sacred cities on this island. Moreover, it was the last Sri Lankan kingdom of the Royal Dynasty. And the interesting fact is, this era holds a series of supreme artistic values. And of course, you guessed it right! This genre got its name from this significant Sri Lankan Kandyan Era. And today, Kandyan dancing remains a style that features a highly developed character. However, at present, Kandyan dancing is not limited to Kandy. It is widely and predominantly practiced and performed throughout the island.
Types of Kandyan Dance
There are five special types of Kandyan dancing. Keep reading and get to know what they are.
- Ves Dance: You can witness a Ves Dance at religious processions, and ceremonial occasions. There is a belief that this genre invokes blessing from the god of ‘Kohomba’. Further, this is a dance that shows out the strength. Thus, it is for men. Elaborated costumes with metallic headdress and metallic anklets are the common features of its costumes. Apart from that, ‘GataBeraya’ (a traditional drum), and the ‘Thalampata’ (a small cymbal) helps in creating its magical rhythms.
- Naiyandi Dance: A ‘Kohomba Kankariya’ (an ancient ritual of purification), is the ideal place to experience this dance genre. Apart from that, you might witness it during special occasions at the Maha Visnu (Vishnu) and Kataragama Devales temples. The dancers wear white cloth with a white turban. In addition, the elaborated decorations on the chest, chains, brass shoulder plates, anklets, and jingles adds glamour to the attire.
- Udekki Dance: This class of dance gets its name since the dancers play an ‘Udekki’ (a small lacquered hand drum)’, while they perform. There are a number of beliefs that are related to god with regard to this genre. With all these concerns, ‘Udekkin dance’ remains an esteemed and a stunning category of Kandyan dancing.
- Pantheru Dance: This is also a dance style associated with a musical instrument, known as ‘pantheruwa’. It is dedicated to the goddess Pattini. Hence, it remains a sacred genre. Moreover, there is a belief that this dance comes from the days of Lord Buddha.
- Vannam: There are 18 ‘vannams’ in Kandyan dancing. Each of them has unique rhythmic stanzas, related to a specific theme. Mostly, animal behaviors are their subjects, and dances depict the motions of each of those vannams.
Low-Country Dances (Pahatharata Natum)
Low-Country dancing, or Pahatharata Natum, as in Sinhalese, is highly associated with the Ruhuna Kingdom of ancient Sri Lanka. This simply means that this genre comes from the Southern parts of the country. The important schools of this style had been located over there. Duly, it is still popular in the southernmost areas in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the Low-Country dancing practices are lacking in the rest of the parts of the island, in the present.
Low-Country dances are also ritualistic. Most of them are for conciliating and appeasing evil spirits. Still, they are remarkably different from the ‘Kanyan Dances’. Unlike Kandyan dancing, Low-Country dancing does not use highly decorative or glamorous costumes. Yet, pahatharata dancers dress in colorful decent dresses with a unique identity. Further, traditional unique masks happen to be a significant feature in many of those dance styles. With the masks, the dancers signify different characters and their spirits. Moreover, ‘Yak Beraya’ (a traditional drum) is the main instrument associated with the Low-Country Dances.
Types of Low-Country Dance
There are various special types of Low-Country dancing. You can find the mains of them below.
- Devil Dancing (Shanthikarma): This is a category with a number of rituals that have strong bonds with the Low-Country dances. In brief, they are a harmonious reflection of chanting, music, dancing, and sculpture. Most of the performers in shanthikarma dress in devilish costumes with devil masks. ‘Madu Shanthikarma’, and ‘Bali Shanthikarma’ are two popular events that feature devil dances. However, all these are overnight events. The performers try to build confidence within the victim through chantings and dance movements.
- Daha-Ata Sanniya (Thowil Pevil): Daha-Ata Sanniya and Thowil Pevil maintain an interrelated tie. Simply, a thowil is the ideal occasion to witness the grandeur of this daha-ata sanniya. However, there is a belief that Thowil is also a therapeutic part of shanthikarma. The main motive behind a thowil is to bless for evil transmitted patients. Through the dances and the rituals, the performers expel the evil spirit affecting the patients. In brief, Daha-Ata Sanniya means a collection of 18 different ritual performances. Simply, each of them depicts an incurable ailment. Sri Lankan villagers believe that a specific group of evils cause these ailments. Hence, what they go through these ‘daha-ata sanni’ is invoking them and appeasing them in order to heal the victim. Accordingly, performers wear each mask to represent them when necessary.
- Kolam: Kolam is also a ritualistic dance performance. Still, they hold with them a more theoretical touch. As same as the other low-country dancing styles, masks hold a major place in the genres as well. Ancient Sri Lankan performed them with the aim of reducing issues that come up with pregnancies.
Sabaragamuwa Dances are a fascinating mix of both Kandyan and Low-Country dances. It holds significant touches of them in their costumes, movements, as well as in rhythms. Even though it is so, sabaragamuwa dances are strictly unique in a way of their own. However, sabaragamuwa dance styles are mainly on behalf of ‘Deity Saman’. The Ratnapura district in Sri Lanka is closely related to this deity. Thus, this genre is also more close to the hearts of people dwelling in the vicinity. Earlier, sabaragamuwa dance styles were also only for males. Later, it was shaped and nurtured in a way that the females could join it as well. Earlier, ‘Yak Beraya’ was closely related to sabaragamuwa dances. Yet, at the present, ‘Dowla’ and ‘Thammettama’ are creating a unique identity to the sabaragamuwa rhythms.
Types of Sabaragamuwa Dance
In brief, Sabaragamuwa dance styles sum up to 32 in total. Unfortunately, many of them are not in use in the present society, owing to various reasons. However, we can still highlight a few of the popular sabaragamuwa dance styles. Some of them might even remind you about the Low-Country genre for sure.
- Sabaragamuwa Shanthikarma: The motive of both the low-country and sabaragamuwa shanthikarma remains the same. Still, the variations of the performances bring out the marvelous uniqueness of each of these genres. In brief, sabaragamuwa shanthikarma are of three main types. You can find them below.
- Deva Thowil: These dances are mainly for invoking the blessings of the gods and goddesses. Their rituals are mostly related to the pre-Buddhist folk religions of Sri Lanka.
- Graha Bali Yaga: Ancient Sri Lankans believed that the ‘’Graha Bali Yaga’ has the ability to alleviate the misfortune of individuals. It is an occasion where a number of rituals are coupled with the dances.
- Dig Ge Natuma: ‘Dig Ge Natuma’ is a Sabaragamuwa dance style that is unique and remarkable. Yet, it would be rare to find an opportunity to witness yourself. In the past, women in this area have worshiped the god Saman with this dance style. Even though not practiced, Sri Lankan dancers still appreciate their values.
By now, you here after a fascinating insight into the classical dances of Sri Lanka. You might have identified a few significant features of them with regard. Most of them were only for men in the past. Further, they maintained a close entanglement with deities, blessings, evils, and fortune. This simply demonstrates what a close relation classical dances had with beliefs and rituals.
However, with all these concerns, folk dances emerged in Sri Lanka, with a unique set of aesthetic values. Their everyday tasks, livelihoods, and cultural values were rhythmically displayed through them. Simply, they reflected the lives of Sri Lankan folk. Further, they were aligned with a set of harmonious rhythms, music, and stanzas. Also, they are still practiced as an important part of performing art and they are indeed amazing. You can find below some of the most popular folk dances in Sri Lanka.
- Kalagedi Dance: Clay pots, ‘kalagedi’, were closely related to the lives of ancient Sri Lankans. Hence, a dance was created as ‘Kalagedi Dance’, in which the girls dance having pots in their hands.
- Raban Dance: ‘Raban’ (a small drum), was a popular musical instrument among Sri Lankans from the past. Thus, this dance style featured ‘raban’. In this dance act, girls and boys bring out their playful gestures while playing a ‘raban’.
- Lee-Keli Dance: This is also a folk dance that is more popular among the younger generations. The performers use a pair of sticks in their hands, and create several amazing steps with varying activities while enjoying themselves with the sticks. Further, it exhibits the highly-spirited active nature of the performers.
This is just a glimpse of it. There are a lot more! Explore more, if you are really interested.
Hope you could remember the ‘Kolam’ that we discussed earlier. And something interesting! There is a belief that it is these ‘kolam’, that paved the path for these Sri Lankan Dance Dramas. As you might already know, ‘kolam’ and masks were always together. So is the art of dance drama. Yet, what significantly differs dance drama from the ‘kolam’ is their motive and background. Hope you can remember that ‘kolam’ was shaped by religion and a number of mystical beliefs. Besides, a dance drama is remarkably different in regard. What it highlights is the social attire together with a magical charm.
The Sri Lankan Dance-dramas was initiated as an art of recreating the Buddhist Jathaka stories. Moreover, they continued for an entire night. Later on, a number of elements enhanced its enchantment and nature. In the present, a dance drama only goes for about two or three hours. A narrator first introduces the characters and sets the start. And then the drama continues. That is how it goes! However, dance dramas are fine art pieces that offer its spectators mind-blowing amusements.
The Journey of Traditional Dance from Past to Now
By now, you surely know how the features of Sri Lankan dancing formed. It is true that they are heavily influenced by religions and beliefs. Still, they are capable of stealing the spotlight even on any international occasion. Their uniqueness and fascination are certainly that high.
However, at the present, the bond that Sri Lankans have with culture, religion, and beliefs are slowly brewing. There are several reasons behind this transition. Globalization and the foreign influences that reshaped Sri Lankan culture are indeed two major causes as such. Duly, a wide range of western and Indian dancing styles, are now popular among the Sri Lankan youth.
Of course, there is no harm in embracing such dancing styles, loving them and appreciating them. Still, preserving the values of the Sri Lankan traditional dancing styles is a factor that demands high concern. Thus, the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Cultural and Religious Affairs plays a significant role in this course. Accordingly, several projects are now in progress. With regard, the government is appreciating the traditional dancer. Further, they are creating new opportunities for Sri Lankans to study and excel in their field of study. Hence, we can hope that the grandeurs of the Sri Lankan Traditional dances will delight the world in many more years to come.
Traditional Music in Sri Lanka
Similarly, traditional music in Sri Lanka is a beautiful facet of Sri Lankan performing arts. Still, it is rarely appreciated in the world of tourism, owing to the language issues. However, let us help you explore it a bit, and discover its glory.
In brief, Sri Lankan music spread their own style of music. As with traditional dancing, it is the folk rites, religion, and the colonial impacts that have formed its rootstock. With all these shades, Sri Lankan traditional music remains astounding and more valuable than ever.
Of course, there are many noteworthy elements of Sri Lankan traditional music. So, why not? Let us have a quick glance over a few of them.
- Folk Music: In brief, folk music simply means a traditional form of music, with simple verses. Moreover, ancient Sri Lankans have used them in communicational form, when engaging themselves in day to day work. However, Sri Lankans do not sing them in a way such as this in the present. Still, children study about them and perform them considering it as a cultural expression.
- Nurti Music: This is the musical segment in Sri Lankan traditional music, that associates with the shades of drama. There is a belief that Sri Lanka embraced ‘Nurti’ from the Indian culture. However, it is now colored with unique cultural values in a way that touches Sri Lanka hearts.
- Sinhalese Light Music: Sri Lankan who studied music in India introduced the culture of light music to this beautiful island. Apart from the touches of Indian music they also hold tints of Christian hymns. However, almost all Sri Lankans fell in love with the melodious tunes of them.
Almost all these music styles are still entertaining Sri Lankans with their unique flavors. Hence, they are appreciated and valued.
2. Sri Lankan Art Designs and Crafts in Sri Lanka
By chance, if you have ever visited Sri Lanka, you might have taken back a few authentic souvenirs from there. If not, a person who visited Sri Lanka might have gifted you with a souvenir from this island. If so, you clearly know the charm of Sri Lankan art designs and crafts. And we are sure that they enlivened you with magical bliss and ecstasy. Hence, in the background as such, we never have to explain their beauty furthermore. Still, if you have not yet come across the delight of the arts and crafts in Sri Lanka, let us help you get to know about them. Simply, because their values are unique and precious.
Indeed, the present state of arts and crafts in Sri Lanka is at its peak. The touches of cultures, together with technological development have brought these crafts a journey that no one imagined of. Besides, the most important factor in traditional arts and crafts in Sri Lanka is the elegance that they add to the modern world while preserving its unique values. However, there are several elements of arts and crafts in Sri Lanka that take its grandeur to the next level. Let us draw your attention to the best of them.
- Traditional Mask Industry
- Coconut Sculptures
- Handloom Industry
- Beeralu Lace Making
- Traditional Drum Making
- Jewellery Making
- Clay (Pottery) Industry
- Lacquer Work (Laksha)
- Wood Carving
- Batik Industry
- Coir Fibre Industry
Of course, each of these arts and crafts in Sri Lanka holds a charm beyond doubt. So, how about having a quick glance over them?
Traditional Mask Industry in Sri Lanka
Having read about the traditional dances, you certainly know the fact that masks hold a vital role in Sri Lankan culture. Thus, there is no wonder that the mask industry on this island was at a peak. There is a belief that it was from India that Sri Lanka inherited this craft. That was indeed a number of centuries back. However, from that point onwards, the mask industry has catered to the Sri Lankan artistic tastes. Meanwhile, a series of improvements have shaped it into a thriving business that fascinates millions worldwide.
In brief, Sri Lankan traditional masks’ exclusivity has the magic of making one gape in wonder. Their features make them interesting, and indeed, the character traditional masks are highly distinctive to Sri Lanka. All of them come in vibrant colors and shades. Besides, the following mask’s designs happen to be the most popular from Sri Lanka.
- Raksha Masks: These are the masks for devil dances. Misshapen mouths and bulging eyes are a common feature of them.
- Sanni Masks: The Performers of the ‘Daha-Ata Sanniya’ use these masks. They feature the characters of the ‘Sanni evils’ who cause illnesses according to the myths.
- Kolam Masks: They mainly highlight human characters, yet with unique features and colors. Mainly used for ‘kolam’, and some of the ‘dance-dramas’.
These are just a few. There are many more masks that bring out various aspects of life. Even though these masks were used for rituals related to purification, fertility, and fortune in the past, their use in today’s world is quite different. Sri Lankan Traditional Masks are today an ornament that adds beauty to the walls. In addition, they are a popular form of souvenirs as well. However, Ambalangoda and the southernmost areas of the island are more popular for this industry.
As you might already know, coconut trees (a type of palm tree) are common in Sri Lanka. All parts of this tree benefit people on a great scale. Thus, it plays an indispensable role in Sri Lanka’s’ lives. However, the coconut sculptures are a craft associated with the hard shell of the coconut nut. The creative hands of the ancient Sri Lankan villagers have given birth to various wonderful creations out of these coconut nuts and shells. Their charming decency and creativity have later turned it into an industry that allures millions.
The most popular creations of coconut sculptures happen to be ornaments. Some of them depict animal gestures, while some take the shapes of wall hangings. Meanwhile, some creative craftsmen create amazing vases, food containers, forks, and spoons as well. Likewise, the range of creations that come out of coconut sculptures is limitless. Whatever they are, all of them showcase the impressive talents of the Sri Lankans. Moreover, coconut sculptures are now fine arts that millions of tourists appreciate. Hence, the families who inherited this talent and skills from generation to generation, are doing their best. Indeed, they are the reason that keeps this industry alive. So, thanks to them, we can hope that this industry would cherish millions of more souls in the future as well.
Handloom Industry in Sri Lanka
In brief, handloom is a hand-woven cotton textile industry. Simply, the handloom industry has a noteworthy past entangled around the legendary history of Sri Lanka. You might sometimes know that there is a belief that the Sri Lankan civilization started with the arrival of Prince Vijaya and his group of 700 followers. And the interesting fact is, when they stepped onto this island, the first human being they met was Kuweni, who was weaving. So, this simply means that weaving was not a new thing for Sri Lankans. Moreover, what had taken the handloom industry this far might be the genes with talents that were passed from generation to generation.
However, thanks to the individuals who are interested in handlooms, the industry is still alive. Further, the handloom industry is portrayed as a trending market among both Sri Lankans and foreigners. On this island, village ladies play a major role in sustaining this industry. Of course, there are a few leading manufacturers with regard. Sill, it mainly remains as a cottage industry that flourishes the beauty of the traditional weaving patterns. Sri Lankan handlooms offer an amusing mix of cotton and silk threads.
Sarees, shawls, and sarongs happen to be the most popular products within the market today. Apart from that, the Sri Lankan handloom industry also gifts the market colorful high-quality household linen, and also curtain fabrics. And the important factor is, among all the other arts and crafts in Sri Lanka, the handloom industry is still alive and is still prospering. Hence, this certainly is an industry that demands high attention and appreciation.
Beeralu Lace Making
Beeralu Lace-making is a craft of elegance, yet a dying industry in Sri Lanka. There is a belief that this industry, also famous as ‘Bobbin lace making’, was a gift from the Colonial era of ancient Sri Lanka. However, for hundreds of years, this authentic practice keeps offering people an experience of elegance.
In brief, Beeralu lace-making is simply a lengthy process. It demands high patience, skills, as well as enthusiasm to excel with the craft. Still, let us remind you that witnessing a lady create charming designs out of her skillful hands is really fascinating. Beeralu lace-making is popular in the southernmost parts of the island. So, why not? You can visit any of these centers, and experience the beauty of crafting this art. Also, your appreciation and contributions would be valuable for them to prosper a dying art that is worth preserving.
Traditional Drum Making in Sri Lanka
Traditional Drum Making in Sri Lanka is a deeply grounded cottage industry within this island. The traditional drum makers are rarely appreciated. Still, the role the craftsmen play in bringing out the beats of ages is indeed appreciable.
Generally, the skills of this industry are passed on from generations. From the point that they start smoothing wood, to the point that they deliver the product, the process demands high dexterity and tranquility. However, how they respectfully involve themselves in this industry is indeed interesting.
There are only a very few leading manufacturers in the industry that uses modern technology. Apart from that, all the other productions in the industry take place in rural villages. Yet, how the villagers bring out a quality product, with the use of their skillful hands, limited toolsets, and the senses of their ears are obviously amazing. Most of the Sri Lankan drum makers are not musicians. Still, the art of beat is simply in their blood. Thus, the drums they make get into the hands of renowned artists as perfect products.
As per the Sri Lankan government, there is nearly 10,000 traditional drum making families in Sri Lanka. The villages around Kelaniya, Attanagala, and Alavala are popular with regard. You can find below a few of the popular drums that they make.
- Geta Beraya: The main drum associated with up-country rituals.
- Thammattama: It comes as a twin drum set, with two separate parts. Thammattama is an essential musical instrument in Buddhist religious places.
- Daula: An instrument closely connected to the Sabaragamuwa classical dances.
- Udakkiya: A small handy drum, mostly used in Kandyan rituals and folk dances.
There are many other traditional drums that take the Sri Lankan beats to the world. A small research on them would amaze you more.
The jewellery making industry in Sri Lanka dates back to the royal kingdoms of ancient Sri Lanka. In the past, jewellery was a sign of royalty and privilege. Thus, golden and silver ornaments, with various coloured gems were a main facet of the royal costumes. In order to serve these requirements, a number of families involved in jewellery making. Duly, the craft passed on and, even today, the art of jewellery making is still alive within this splendid island.
The ‘Agasti’ ornaments, which were only for a specific caste of the society, is a remarkable leading light of this industry. Apart from that, ornaments sets, which included the necklace, earrings, and bangles were highly demanded ornaments in the past. However, the traditional jewelry designers brought up amazing jewelry designs, having prosperity, nobleness, and wealth as the main concerns. Duly, the industry evolved, with fine art skills that enrich the craft.
At present, the jewelry-making industry in Sri Lanka is highly equipped and modernized. It is rare to find traditional jewelry makers who follow the olden days’ techniques and tools. Yet, the leading manufacturers present the world with wonderful designs preserving the shades of the traditional aesthetic values.
Clay (Pottery) Industry in Sri Lanka
The art of the clay industry in Sri Lanka is really inspiring. Moreover, how it delicately molds a ray clay pile into a piece of fine art is worth exploring. The journey of the pottery industry so far has passed a number of significant milestones with a series of evolvements. Duly, it is now in a state, which brightens the hearts of millions through its delightful creations.
Of course, offering a clay product to the market is never an easy task. The tireless efforts behind that product not only bring you art to enjoy but the warmth and the happiness of the Sri Lankan villagers. In brief, the clay industry is a time-consuming process. It starts with collecting clay, and then the procedure continues as seasoning the mixture, slicing, and then crafting. Indeed, it is not a smooth sail through the journey. Still, these talented Sri Lankan villagers succeed in bringing out a lively sculpture, shaded with complexities at last.
The modern world pottery industry in Sri Lanka holds a number of variations, with regard to technology and techniques. Duly, it is now a thrilling industry in the Sri Lankan market, which allures a majority of the tourists as well. In the past, the main motive behind the pottery industry was to deliver a quality product to cater to the daily requirements of the people. However, today, the demands are broader. Clay products are now adorning living spaces with their delicate fine beauty. Owing to this fact, the industry is now catering to demands of wide scope. Hence, this industry remains as a continuing tradition, preserving its unique identity.
Lacquer (Laksha) work in Sri Lanka
By chance, if you have visited Sri Lanka, you might have come across lacquer work nestling among the shelves of several shops. Still, you might not know that it is lacquer work since many are not aware of this brilliant craft. Yet, let us remind you that it is a great artwork in Sri Lanka, that you should never miss.
Simply, lacquer is an art of decorations that forms with the use of both lines, and complex representations. Apart from that, even floral designs, and traditional Sri Lankan design happen to be popular concepts for these artworks. The inceptive steps of Lacquer work date back to the royal dynasty of Sri Lanka. It has its rootstock in the Central province of the island. Moreover, its originality comes from the Kandyan period to be specific.
From the olden days, lacquer work was most common on wooden jewelry boxes, bookends, letter-openers, betel-leaf holders, and candle stands. And even today, they make a perfect fit to embellish any of the living spaces. Back then the brilliant colors were from natural elements. Today, the vivid shades for the lacquer designs come out with the use of dyes.
The resin of lac insects forms the material for lacquer designs. However, the artistic technique of bringing out art is extraordinarily exclusive. In brief, it is done using the thumbnail of the left hand and the nail of the right hand’s smallest finger. This craft is still alive in the village areas around Tangalle, and Kandy. So, if you ever arrive on this island, make sure that you visit these areas and witness the grandeur of this gaiety of coloring.
Wood Carvings in Sri Lanka
Wood Carving in Sri Lanka is indeed superior to craftsmanship beyond words. Moreover, it is a craft on this island that holds a proud legacy. As per Sri Lankan history, a group of craftsmen belonging to sixty casts arrived in Sri Lanka. That was during the era in which Buddhism was established on this land. So, there is a belief that Sri Lanka embraced the art of woodworking from the craftsmen in that group.
The grandeur of the Sri Lankan traditional wood carvings can be still observed in many of the cultural attractions on this island. ‘Embekke Devalaya’, ‘Lankathilaka Viharaya’, and the ‘Temple of Tooth Relic’ are some of the ideal places for you to witness their splendor. They perfectly manifest how the wood carving traditions in Sri Lanka inextricably link to the wonderful culture of this land.
As of now, the wood carving industry in Sri Lanka shines bright as the traditions continue. The talented Sri Lankan craftsmen still do their best in offering the world wood carvings that are simply stupendous in their charm. And the specialty is, the traditional craftsmen still use the basic tools that they are familiar with. However, with their skillful hands, lifeless dull wooden pieces turn into adorning ornaments that allure millions.
Wooden wall hangings, animal and human figures, and flower pots are the most popular wood carving creations as of now. Of course, Sri Lankan traditional craftsmen are just clever at their work and talented beyond doubt. So, why not? Make a wood carving from Sri Lanka an authentic souvenir and experience its mind-blowing enchantments yourself.
Batik Industry in Sri Lanka
As you might already know, Batik is a contemporary technique for fabric transformations by using wax on fabric. As per the beliefs, Sri Lanka embraced this art of batik from the Dutch during the colonial era. Later on, it became one of the significant facets of the Sri Lankan arts and crafts, with unique shades of the Sri Lankan culture. However, it remained a cottage industry till the 1970s. Yet, as a result of the prospering tourism industry, the demand for the Batik industry kept rapidly increasing since then.
Batik dresses, sarees, shawls, shirts, and sarongs are the most popular products of this industry. With the touches of the Sri Lankan cultures, the batik mosaic on clothes depicts a number of geometric, animal, and floral traditional designs and decorations. The Batik artists in Sri Lanka are indeed skilled practitioners. So, whatever the design is, they have the talent of adding a vibrant and elegant look for whatever the piece of cloth that they work on.
The Batik industry in Sri Lanka remains at a peak owing to the immense love that both the locals and tourists have for it. With the growing demands, the Sri Lankan artists have been able to keep the art alive thus far.
Combining both the local traditions as well as the global trends, the Batik industry is creating its way forward. The Institute of Textiles & Apparel (SLITA), plays a major role with regard to uplifting the industry from its present state. Duly, many Sri Lankans are embracing art with love. Moreover, the younger generations are coming up with new concepts to make it reach the unreached corners of the world. Hence, we can hope for a brilliant future in the Batik industry in the years to come.
Coir Fiber Industry in Sri Lanka
Simply, coconut coir is a form that is strong and long-lasting. Hence, ancient Sri Lankans have experienced the true joys of making a number of products using coir. Later, it turned out to be a cottage-industry that lasted for centuries. And today here it is, as the main contributor to the exports of Sri Lanka.
It is an obvious fact that the traditions of the coir industry in Sri Lankan depended on the basic methods and simple tools. Yet, today’s coir industry is at a good standard. Simply, it has the ability to compete with the international market. As of now, the coir products from Sri Lanka mainly revolve around products like brushes, and doormats. Apart from that, Sri Lanka exports coir for several foreign manufacturers as well. The main reason for the popularity of coir is their eco-friendliness. And as you might already know, today we are living in a world where the concept of ‘eco-friendly products’ remains at the top. Hence, there is no wonder about the rising demands for coir products of Sri Lanka.
After all, there is no doubt that the coir industry in Sri Lanka can perform better. Hence, the Coconut Development Authority, together with the Department of Commerce is taking necessary actions to make it further prosper. So, hoping that the combination of the skills and designs would surely dawn a new era for the coir industry in the future.
The Bottom Line
After all, this brings us to the end of our journey in exploring the fascination of the traditional arts and crafts in Sri Lanka. Of course, their colorful flavors, rituals of the folk, along with the inborn talents offer the world a magical experience. Simply, their authenticity and quality are unparalleled. Hence, each of these arts and crafts in Sri Lanka competes at the international level. Duly, they play a vital role in bringing the foreign review to the Sri Lankan economy. However, some of these traditional arts and crafts in Sri Lanka are on the verge of being forgotten. Thus, the Sri Lankan government is taking action to preserve its purity and support its continuity. So, if you ever visit Sri Lanka never forget to appreciate them, and help save an industry from dying out with their values!