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Traditional mask-making workshop with an artist

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Masks have been used in Sri Lanka for generations, originating from rituals in village settings that followed ancient beliefs, and also used for curing illness. It is believed that masks have healing and protective powers. Today masks are used in dramas and dance performances but in rural areas used in rituals that are very much alive.

Experience Overview

This hands-on workshop in Kolam mask carving takes place at Sithuvili, a boutique antiques, arts and crafts shop tucked away on Leybann Street in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Galle Fort. The workshop is hosted by an artisan craftsman and takes you through the stages of the age old tradition in mask carving from start to finish. The different types of masks used in Sri Lanka are Kolam mask, Sanni mask and Raksha mask. We begin with an introduction to Sri Lankan masks and the art of Kolam mask carving, narrated by your host. You will then be given a detailed introduction to the tools used in carving up a block of wood. Kolam masks are mainly made from a light wood known as ‘kaduru’, which helps in easy carving and ensures durability and lightness. Your master craftsman will draw outlines and demonstrate the carving techniques, after which point it’s all down to you! He’s always by your side from start to finish in the event you are unsure of angles or pressure to place on the tools.

Includes:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style

All materials and tools, a dedicated master craftsman, refreshments, your own mask, a vehicle.

Timings:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style

9AM to 11.30AM

What to wear or bring along:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
What to wear or bring along:

Light, cool clothing. It can get humid during the day.

Important information:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Important information:

Sithuvili is particularly sensitive to two things: being eco-friendly and using traditional material. The shop uses a lot of recycled paper and draws from materials like mahogany, kithul (treacle), kurundu (cinnamon) etc.

Private/not private:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Private/not private:

This experience is always private.

Suitable for children: - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Suitable for children:

The tools used for carving are quite sharp and need to be handled with care. Therefore the option for wood carving is recommended for children 13 years and above only, but if parents insist, the host is happy to move this minimum age to 8 years provided they are assisted by an adult.

About the Host

Your host is a young artist/craftsman born in Ambalangoda. His parents worked in the batik industry and he recalls he learnt of the traditional Sinhala motifs and decorative styles as a student at Devananda College, Ambalangoda. He began in pottery painting, developing a style and form of his own, based naturally on the existing forms familiar to him. From pottery painting he moved to pulp before becoming a lead supplier to Barefoot in 1999.




Managing Expectations

It is important to remember that, whilst they are experts in their field, the people who run or host our experiences are not necessarily used to working in the tourism industry and may not offer the level of service you would find at a five-star hotel. For example, instead of a formal lecture, you may get a relaxed conversation where open discussion is encouraged. All of our hosts are, however, extremely engaging, knowledgeable and passionate about educating visitors about their chosen subject and we have worked with them to ensure that they deliver worthwhile, fulfilling experiences. We welcome feedback, so please let us know what you thought and if you think any improvements could be made to the experiences we offer.

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