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Arts and Crafts of Sri Lanka

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Art of Sri LankaArts 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.

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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 are:

Kandyan Dance
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 drums.

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
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.

Mask: 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: 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.

Batiks: 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.

Jewelry: 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.

Dance of Sri LankaArchitecture 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 country.

Buddhist architecture
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 amalaka shape.

Hindu architecture
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 clockwise.

European architecture
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.

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