By popular demand Handicrafts of Sri Lanka
by Professor Jayadewa Thilakasiri has been reprinted. This beautifully
prepared book is a precious gift to anyone interested in Handicrafts
In the past the craftsman had a very important role to play in
fashioning the crown of the king and jewellery for the queen. What an
* Professor Thilaksiri: I reprinted Handicrafts of Sri Lanka because
there was huge demand to know this art
* Buddhi Keerthisena: Even though written in English, this book is
very rare for its subject
* Siva Obeysekere: Our people don't have money to buy raw materials,
because the prices go up. They require financial assistance
Professor Jayadewa Thilakasiri.
Pictures by Ruwan de Silva
By popular demand Handicrafts of Sri Lanka by Professor Jayadewa
Thilakasiri has been reprinted. This beautifully prepared book is a
precious gift to anyone interested in Handicrafts. It is printed in such
away that even someone unfamiliar with the topic would find engrossing.
There is not much of a change from the previous reprint.
"This is a reprint of my earlier book Handicrafts of Sri Lanka. The
people who read it earlier feel that there should be a reprint. There is
such a demand, many people buying books in the market say they want to
know the background and history of the product. What you find in Sinhala
is not enough. So they are asking me to reprint this book. I had to
spend twice as much as last time. So I don't know whether I will be able
to recover my money.
And fortunately for me Siva Obeyesekere came to my rescue. She
offered these premises free of charge. You can't get place in Colombo
like this without paying by the hour. So that is a good piece of luck.
And this is an appropriate place for Handcrafts." said Thilaksiri,
Professor Emeritus, University of Peradeniya.
Professor Thilakasiri also said he had covered the crafts in his
book: major and minor crafts. He said the major crafts are appreciated
by tourists and visitors. The minor crafts are still pursued. These
minor crafts can be developed further. But there is a big problem of raw
materials. The poor craftsmen cannot make items and sell them in the
"This is a very valuable book. It previously came out in 1994. In the
recent past it has been difficult to find this book in the market. They
were not able to buy this book anywhere in Sri Lanka. The National
Crafts Council is grateful to Professor Thilakasiri for reprinting this
book. For the craftsmen and women in Sri Lanka there is a limited amount
of literature on crafts. A book in English, Sinhala and Tamil is much
desired." Said National Crafts Council Chairman Buddhi Keerthisena.
There was a time even the government didn't see a ministry for
crafts. The state was not very keen on establishing a ministry. But
later with the arrival of tourists they showed an interest in the making
of these crafts. Very much later a ministry was established.
"As a teacher in the University of Peradeniya and after that the
University of Colombo I had a love for crafts. Because I came from a
village in Galle where craftsmanship was extremely valued. And many of
my relatives were expert craftsman. At that time they didn't have modern
tools at that stage, but they were very gifted and they are very
honest." Said Professor Thilakasiri.
In the course of time Handicrafts became a very sophisticated
subject. Not only Jewellery but anything that can be turned into a
"I have had a long life with crafts. I started in the village and I
have always enjoyed that because I love to work in the village. And that
is what took me deeper and deeper throughout the country traveling the
length and breadth of the land. I visited crafts people in their homes.
In my visit to India I met a lady called Kamaladevi. She is the main
person of Asia who took crafts forward in Asian countries. I was
inspired by her. Then she came here too and stayed in my home. And she
made me think of doing some work for crafts." Siva Obeyesekere said.
"My first initiative was to start Laksala. It was a hard job, not
easy, to convince people to bring their goods and they were afraid that
they wouldn't get paid and get a fair price. That was the first thing I
had to assure the crafts people. That I implemented and it was a
success. You could say that was when the doors opened to crafts in Sri
Lanka." Said Obeyesekere Obeyesekere also expressed her concern over the
hardships craftsmen have to under go to produce a craft. Raw material is
a severe problem.