Arts and Crafts of Sri Lanka
of Sri Lanka have achieved great heights during the course of history. All
the Sri Lankan art forms like dance, music, sculpture, paintings and architecture have
enjoyed development. Influence of Buddhism on the arts of Sri Lanka is
obvious as is the impact of India. Originated religious beliefs of the
people are the base of Sri Lanka arts. Every phase in the history of Sri
Lanka has added some characteristic elements to Sri Lankan arts.
Dances of Sri Lanka
People of ancient Sri Lanka regarded dance as the best way to please the
nature gods. They danced to save themselves from natural disasters.
Tradition of dance started in Sri Lanka during the 4th century B.C. South
Indian influence became obvious in Sri Lanka in 15th century AD. It was
particularly evident in the folk dances. Regopma; and local traditions made
dances of a particular area different from other areas. Three main dances of Sri Lanka
Kandyan Dance is today regarded as the national dance form of Sri Lanka.
The dance evolved primarily during the period of Kandyan kings, hence the
name Kandyan dancing. The dance form depicts scenes of Ramayana, tales of
kings, queens, princes and heroes as well as dancing of kings and heroes.
Costumes of Kandyan dancers are impressive. Male dancers wear spectacular
headgear and their bare chests are adorned with elegat silver regalia. They
also wear silver bangles on arms and anklets. They dance on the rhythms of
Low Country Dance
Low country dance is performed to please the sickness-causing evil
spirits. The dancers put masks on their faces. These masks resemble birds,
demons, reptiles etc. This type of dance is highly ritualistic.
Sabaragamuwa Dance is enthusiastically performed in Ratnapura. The locals
employ this dance to worship God Saman.
Handicrafts of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka takes pride in its extensive variety of handicrafts. Tradition of
making handicrafts is very old. Requirements of the people and their
artistic tastes combined themselves to make these articles. These
handicrafts serve as wonderful souvenirs and can be found in shops and
stores in all parts of the country.
Sri Lankans exclusively use masks, facial
decorative wear. Since ancient times, the masks are being used in rituals,
dramas, and curing sickness. Traditional Sri Lankans think that masks have
curative power for various physical and physiological illnesses. Most masks
are made of light wood called kaduru.
Pottery is one of the oldest crafts in Sri
Lanka. Pottery is still used by thousands of people as a daily utensil. More
intricate products likes terracotta figures, carved vases, etc are taken
back by the visitors as souvenirs.
Batik is basically an Indonesian art, but has
evolveded in Sri Lanka into its unique style. Tourists can find hundreds of
variety of batiks sold throughout the island. More popular among these are
the batik pictures made in Kandy and Fresco Batiks on the Peradeniya road in
the outskirts of Kandy.
Sri Lanka is excellent producer of jewelry. It
benefits its own economy to great extent. There are two conventions of
jewelry making: Galle tradition and Kandyan tradition. The Galle tradition
is known for its precious stones while the Kandyan tradition is carried by
its intricate metal work.
of Sri Lanka
Architecture in Sri Lanka has always been closely associated with religion
first Hinduism and then Buddhism. Buddhism has always been an umbrella under
which the architecture of Sri Lanka has evolved. Sri Lanka has also remained
under the occupation of the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch and finally
the British. All these reigns left their impact on the architecture in Sri
Lanka. Colonial legacy can be seen in ancient colonial buildings in the
The most prominent epitome of Buddhist architecture is the dagoba (stupa)
scattered everywhere in the Island. The structure is in a shape of dome,
often painted in white. It enshrines the Buddha's relics such as hair and
tooth. Bricks are used to make the structure which is later covered with
plaster. The tradition of building the stupas originated during the reign of
Emperor Asoka of India who sent his son Mahendra to Sri Lanka as a Buddhist
missionary. Innumerable dagobas emerged on the island. The dagobas can be
seen in bubble shape, bell shape, pot shape, the heap of paddy shape, and
Most Hindu temples in Sri Lanka are dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple are
known as kovils in Sri Lanka. A Hindu temple usually consists of a prayer
hall and shrine room. Shikhara is the central edifice of the Hindu temple.
Shikhara is in dome or pyramid shape. It is elaborately adorned with
sculptures. The visitors to the temple take circambulate the deity
European architecture left considerably influence on the way buildings were
made in Sri Lanka. The Portuguese left the tiled-roof building with its
verandah, the Catholic churches as well as the forts. Galle fort is an
excellent example of Dutch legacy. The British influenced the Dutch with
their clerical and secular architectural styles. The British also
constructed elegant buildings in hill station like Nuware Eliya.
Sculpture and Painting
Arts like sculpture and painting in Sri Lanka have always developed under
the influence of Buddhism. Most works of sculpture in the country have been
of Buddha images. The idols of Buddhas were carved from the living rock of
limestone cliffs. Other materials like jade, rock, crystal, marble, emerald,
ivory, coral and wood were also used for expressing art. Three main poses of
Buddha idols are standing, meditating, and reclining. Sculptors of Sri Lanka
were exquisitely skilled. They built idols which symbolised religious
beliefs of the Lankans.