Traditional Crafts in Sri Lanka

The diversity of traditional crafts is one of the main delights of shopping in Sri Lanka, with every region of the country specializing in a particular skill.

Ambalangoda, on the West Coast, is famous for the brightly painted hand-craved masks originally worn by low country dancers. In addition to several shops, the town has many workshops, such as the one attached to the Ariyapala & Sons Mask Museum where it is possible to observe artisans at work and buy from them directly.

In the south, Galle is famous for its shops selling beautiful lace and crochet work. Good quality leather goods can be bought in markets and streets stalls in Colombo and Negombo. Leather bags can be particularly good bargain if shoppers are willing to haggle. Popular with tourists and locals alike, the elegant Palmyra leaf bags can be found for sale in the markets in Jaffna. Kandy and its surrounds excel in lacquer ware and brass, wood and silver work. The markets here teem with objects such as tea sets, candlesticks and bowls adorned with fine carvings and inlay.

Sri Lanka is also known for high quality Batik an Indonesian art brought to the country by Dutch. Sarongs, table runners and wall hangings decorated with patterns ranging from Kandyan dancers to more abstract designs are specialties.

The government run chain of craft outlets called Laksala has fixed prices and several branches across Sri Lanka. The Kandyan Art Association is another government sales outlet that boasts a variety of goods and demonstrations of various crafts.

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