Srilanka Art of sri lanka, cultural art of sri lanka, ancient sri lankan cultural art Srilanka

Art of Sri Lanka

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Art of Sri LankaThe visual arts, architecture, literature, music and dance of Sri Lanka all bear the definitive seal of centuries-old Buddhist culture which had hold sway over the social fabric of the country. Until the coming of the British, poetry, music and dance were almost entirely ceremonial and devotional performances. It’s only by the mid-19th century that Sri Lanka opened its windows to the outside cultural influences. This was hastened by the advent of the printing press.

Sri Lanka did not have a fertile ground for the growth of vernacular literature particularly because of the conservative Buddhist tradition coupled with the fierce political repression which followed the leftist revolts of 1971 and 1987-88 and the ethnic troubles of the 1980s and 1990s. But still she has her share of home spun literary talent. The best known of its authors, perhaps, is Michael Ondaatje, who wrote the much acclaimed novel The English Patient, also a popular screen picture.

Music and Dance
Kandyan Dance:
Music and dance in Sri Lanka are still closely intertwined with religious rituals. Kandyan or 'high country' dance which is accompanied by the complex rhythms of several drummers has evolved from village dances performed to appease to local deities. The percussion instrument used is a wooden drum with leather heads of monkey skin at one end and cowhide at the other. Two different types of skins make room for contrasting tones. Dancers, usually women, go through a routine of sinuous poses and flowing arm movements.

Devil- mask Dance:
'Low country' or 'devil-mask' dancing is generally performed with the motive of exorcism. These are also accompanied by drummers, who use a special 'demon drum' to enhance the steps and movements of dancers wearing the grotesque masks representing the 18 demons of disease.

Art and Architecture
Buddhist Influence:
Sri Lanka's architectural heritage is very much influenced and shaped by Buddhist traditions. Prominent among the architectural edifices are the dagobas which are sighted everywhere in the country. Built in the shape of a dome, the dagobas often enshrine relics of the Buddha, such as a hair or a tooth, and is usually massively constructed of brick covered with a coat of plaster and painted white. Ancient temple sites are featured by statues of Buddha which are often carved from the living rock of basalt crags and cliffs. Frescoes like those located at Sigiriya may display beautiful women, temple dancers or deities.

European Influence:
The pantiled roofs and verandahs which grace many a quaint, old building are living examples of the Portuguese and Dutch architectural legacy. Many Dutch buildings are still found in Galle. Kandy and Nuwara Eliya houses many surviving buildings from the British colonial era.