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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Traditional Kandyan Arts & Crafts - Embrace Kandyan Culture
Joanna James Joanna James
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Traditional Kandyan Arts & Crafts - Embrace Kandyan Culture

Perched on the Kandy plateau, the city of Kandy was once home to Sri Lanka's kings. Tourists can catch a glimpse of the past as they explore the beauty of Kandy's indigenous arts and crafts.


Kandyan Dancing

Visitors to Sri Lanka often have the chance to catch a glimpse of Kandyan dancing as this special dance form is performed at temples, religious festivals such as Peraheras and weddings. Traditionally, performed without music and generally only to percussion, Kandyan dancing is an unforgettable experience. Kandyan dancing can be seen during the Kandy Esala Perahera which is a festival centred around a religious relic is held in July and if you are in Kandy at that time, there are many accommodation options available such as the Kings Pavilion Kandy. However, please note that it would be advisable to quickly book your hotel, Kandy can get quite crowded!


Kandyan Jewellery

In ancient Kandyan culture, both men and women loved to adorn themselves with jewellery. It is, therefore, no surprise that Kandyan jewellery has almost achieved an art form. Even in modern day Sri Lanka, it is common to see brides dressed in Kandyan bridal wear and covered with traditional Kandyan jewellery. Investing in some Kandyan jewellery would be a great souvenir as you can take home something truly special.


Sesath Work

The Sesath is, in essence, a highly artistic sunshade which was commonly used during the days of the Kandyan Kingdom and was carried by attendants to shield the nobility from the sun. Having a Sesath was once a status symbol in Sri Lanka and old Kandyan families were proud of their Sesaths. Today, they are largely used in homes as decorations or can be seen at religious processions such as Peraheras.


Lacquer Work

Lacquer work or as it is known in Sinhala as 'laaksha' is the art of woodwork painting. Traditional lacquer work involves creating strikingly colourful geometric designs on wood without the use of a brush. The lacquer is, in fact, scraped or carved on to the surface of the wood. During the time of the Kandyan Kingdom, lacquer workers busied themselves by decorating the furniture of the nobility; primarily beds, flag staves, ornamental windows and walking sticks. The current generation of craftsmen in Kandy carry on their predecessors' work but they now produce beautifully designed ashtrays, jewellery boxes, flower pots and Sesaths.



Kandyan craftsmen are especially skilled in several types of weaving. Reed ware are popular products in the Kandyan region and are made by weaving Tala leaf from local palm trees and other locally grown reeds. Reed products range from mats to food baskets and they make unique souvenirs for those who want to take back a piece of the Kandyan Kingdom. The Kandy District is also famous for its mat and wall hanging weaving. The products are woven from the processed and dyed fibres of local hemp plants. The end result is an extremely colourful range of mats and wall hangings which often have floral or animal designs and geometrical patterns. Generally, craftsmen specialise in only one type of design which is passed down through the generations.