Conventional Arts of Kandyan Period


Carvings of Ivory

Ivory carvings have been created in three systems. They are embossing, colouring and carving. It is observed that this art of ivory carving has been developed during the period of Kandy.

Jewelry boxes, combs, caskets, ivory chest, varieties of statues, handle of the fans, handles of tools and weapons and different types of containers with very skillful carvings and conventional Sinhala designs such as designs of “palapethi”, “liyawel”, “nari latha”, “Serapendiya”, swans, “berunda pakshiya”, “arimbuwa”  of this period.

There is a frame of entrance made of wood embossed with ivory carvings skillfully done reflecting the “Panchanari getaya” and images of lions and with many more designs of creepers around the entrance frame found from Ridi Vihara which has been treated as one of the excellent carving of ivory in Kandyan period

Brass, Silver , Gold and Bronz Crafting

This is an art which was popular during the Kandyan period, speacially around Pilimathalawa and Kiriwawla areas.  This art has been used in temple decorations, Buddha statues, caskets, residences, handles of ceremonial swards and knives, metal chest, reliquaries, chunam boxes, betel founders, betel stool trays, different types of jewelries, trays, vases, wall decorations, spittoons and etc.

There are plate work and mould work in these creations. The conventional Sinhala designs of art “palapethi”, “liyawel”, “Hansa puttu”, “Serapendiya”, swans, lotus petals and images of sun and moon have been engraved on them with the help of tiny metal tools.


Pottery Industry

Pottery industry is widely spreaded in areas like, Kelaniya, Hanwella, Kaduwela, Matale and Kalutara. Pots are been made as domestic utensil, and decorative items. These are made either by hand or using a turn table operated by hand or legs. Thereafter conventional decorations are been created on them with colorful designs.

Industry of Mat

Dumbara area of Kandy is famous for making mats with designs and carpets which are made out of “niyanda and pan” bristles.

“Niyanda” leaves are thrashed and fibers are extracted. Pan are been boiled and added suitable colours. The colours have been made from the natural ingredients. The items such as mat, carpet, wall hangings, and containers are being made with different types of beautiful decorations.

Lacquer Craft (Laksha) 

Lacquer craftsmen are known as “E Carpenters”. Lacquer are been made out of gum of the insect of Laksha lived on trees  such as Corn, Masan, Keppetiya and Thalakiriya.

The colouring lacquer is made mixing with dolomite and sadilingam. The laksha paint are being used to decorate  outer part of the items such as betel founders, betel stool trays, caskets, railings, book covers, handles of fans of Bikkhus, pole of sesath, walking sticks, and other items. Hapuwida of Matale, Agul maduwa of Tangalle, Hureekaduwa of Pathadumbara are famous for lacquer crafting.


Art of Making Masks

Creating designs, applying paintings and using for the relevant dance are the main features in this making of masks. In early days the masks were made out of a single slab of wood and now it has been developed and make them in several parts and joined them accordingly. Light in weight timber like Diya Kaduru, Wel Kaduru and Rukathhana are used to make masks.

Masks are used in “bali”, “thovil” and “sanni” which the people utilize them for conventional dancing and performances.

The performer wearing the mask tries to imitate the fear, surprise, disliking, anger and mockery in their performances. They create eye, nose, ear and tongue in different forms to visualize different features.

In addition to above images of birds, cobra, different features of other animals, and floral designs have been used in masks to match for the recognition.

“Rukada” dancing also have a relationship with this mask. Ambalangoda, Galle, Kalutara are famous for this industry of masks.

Viewing Industry

Viewing of materials was an industry carried out by the inhabitants of the Island even during the time of Vijaya came to Sri Lanka.

The viewers used the “Aluwa” to view the material. There are so many conventional designs used in these materials and mostly the viewers have not used the colours at the inception. However they have used colours of Awariya and Pachcha. There are several materials exhibited in Museum of Colombo which are said to be used by the inhabitants of the period of Kandy.