Sri Lanka is a land that boasts of a rich cultural heritage. During this long history, various arts and crafts evolved and some carried on as traditional industries that are practiced even today. As centuries passed by, various cultures and important historic events influenced these industries making them unique to the island. Whether you are looking to grab some authentic souvenirs or simply interested in learning about traditional Sri Lankan industries or staying at a Kandy guest house, take a look at some of the most amazing traditional arts and crafts of Sri Lanka that have evolved over the years.
Traditional Sri Lankan Art
Throughout history Buddhism has played an important role in influencing the various arts and crafts of Sri Lanka. Paintings were a popular method used to decorate walls of shrines, palaces and other important constructions. This traditional Sri Lankan art, which are dates back thousands of years can still be found in ancient cities like Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. Perhaps the finest example of ancient art in Sri Lanka is found in Sigiriy rock fortress. Other than that various styles of paintings can been seen belonging different eras, often influenced by dominating cultures and practices that took root during the time.
However, if you want to buy them as souvenir then that’s easier said than done. There are not many who excels in this traditional art form. You can try your luck in some art galleries in Colombo or visit the street art corner near Nelum Pokuna.
A fine example of this can be seen by the large number of sculptures and paintings on display in ancient ruin cities. It is quite intriguing to see some of the earliest works that were carved out of rock. Over time various other materials like wood, metal, marble, limestone, jade etc. were used.
If you had the chance to witness a Perahera or any other traditional cultural display, you would have most certainly seen dancers wearing scary looking facial wear. These are masks that depict traditional folklore in Sri Lanka and were originally used in rituals like devil dances practiced for healing purposes. Today, they are a key feature seen in many traditional festivals and processions. This industry is still kept alive mainly in the coastal city, Ambalangoda and you could even consider buying one of these colourful works of art to take back home with you.
The handloom textile industry of Sri Lanka is one which is centuries old. Due to its fine quality and luxurious appeal, it’s no surprise that handloom was once historically traded to other parts of the world like China, India and Middle East. In recent years this industry has received a strong boost due of the rising demand for environmentally friendly, sustainable materials. There are a number of handloom products available in Sri Lanka. Among these are curtains, soft toys and most importantly exquisitely beautiful garments like saris, sarongs and more.
Batik finds it roots and origins from Indonesia, but this industry has established itself within Sri Lanka as well. This craft involves following a careful and detailed production process to yield unique eye-catching and colourful designs. Sri Lankan Batiks are well known for being of the finest quality. It should come as no surprise that anything from Batik wall hangings to clothing items are all bestsellers.
Throughout history, jewellery has played a very important role in Sri Lankan culture. We recommend you head to the National Museum for a wide array of jewellery items worn by kings and queens. Even today, the industry receives much prominence as it is an important source of income to the country. While in Sri Lanka you will not be able to resist the urge to pick up some pieces of jewellery. Most of these will come in traditional and modern designs. Sri Lankan jewellery also features the finest quality precious and semi-precious gems. Ratnapura is a famous city in Sri Lanka known to be a treasure trove for such valuable jewels, so you might want book our featured bungalow and spend a day or two of your vacation in this city.
Pottery is of Sri Lanka’s oldest crafts. But the products are still among the many essential items in local households. Apart from products for cooking, the industry produces beautiful earthenware and ornamental items. If you are planning to stay in one of our accommodation options in Kandy, you might want to stop by the small pottery village, Molagoda and watch skilled craftsmen wield a pottery wheel to create works of art.