Maintaining over 2500 years of history, Sri Lanka has much to offer the culture thirsty traveller. Take a walk through the cultural triangle and one would be introduced to a world of impeccable craftsmanship. Be it stone or wood carvings, the artisans of that era produced invaluable works that have stood the test of time.
The traditional work of Sri Lanka includes woodcarving, brassware making, gems and jewellery and more. The traditional work or ‘Shilpa’ as it is referred to locally is a ‘craft’ that traces its ancestry over decades. There are artisan families here in Sri Lanka that are dedicated to this craft and has proudly engaged in it for years.
Woodcarving is a shilpa that most famously and officially marks its lineage to the era of the Kandyan Kingdom. Two stellar examples of woodcarving can be seen in the Lankatilake Temple and the Ambakka Devale in Kandy. However, it is believed that the very tradition of woodcarving was in practise long before the reign of the Kandyan empire.
Requiring the craftsman to carefully work on the wood with a chisel, woodcarving essentially means producing a sculpture or an ornamental finished piece which includes window frames, ceiling pillars, furniture and more. Some of the popular woodcarving products purchased today are sculptures of Lord Buddha, the Sri Lankan Elephant and traditional Sri Lankan masks.
For those who like to dive a little deep into the world of woodcarving, a woodcarving workshop can be easily facilitated with reputed artisans. Nishantha’s woodcarving workshop in Polonnaruwa, for instance, invites visitors to experience the craft first hand by taking to carving. A souvenir crafted just by you on your vacation provides for the idyllic memorabilia.