Ambalangoda Mask and Ariyapala Mask Museum
The town is renowned for the manufacture of wooden masks and puppets.The traditional masks are carved from light Balsa like Kaduru wood (Nux vomica). Kaduru trees grow in the marshy lands bordering paddy fields. The wood is smoke dried for a week in preparation. The hand carved and hand painted masks in traditional dance dramas are both vibrant and colorful. Masks are created for three different types of dancing rituals: ‘Kolam’, which tell mocking stories of traditional Sri Lankan colonial life; ‘Sanni’, or devil dancing masks, used in a type of exorcism ceremony to heal people of persisting illnesses believed to be inflicted by demons; and ‘Raksha’ masks, which are used in festivals and processions. The Naga Raksha (Cobra demon) mask of the ‘Raksha Kolama’ (demon dance), consists of a ferocious face with bulging, popping & staring eyes, a bloodthirsty carnivorous tongue lolling out of wide mouth armoured and armed to the hilt with set of fanglike teeth, all topped by a set of cobra hoods.
The Ariyapala Mask Museum gives a glimpse into the meaning, tradition and history of Sri Lankan masks. Carving a mask includes more than just a piece of wood and a chisel. The wood is first dried in the hot sun before carving out the basic shape. The mask is then placed on a hearth for a week to season the wood. Expressions are then carved into the mask using various types of chisels and mallets. Once it is ready the mask is smoothed and then given its initial layer of paint. Each mask has its own colours to depict its characteristics. For example, red could represent anger.
Coming from over five generations of dancers, mask-carvers, musicians and teachers Bandusena Wijesooriya, and his family has preserved and strengthened the mask carving tradition through the Ariyapola Mask Museum, which celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Sri Lanka while also preserving it for future generations.
Dudley Silva Batik
A design drawn on fabric, painted with wax, dipped in a boiling dye with a riot of colours in a kaleidoscope comes out a Batik. The Indonesian art of batik-making is believed to have been introduced to Sri Lanka by the Dutch, and over the past century has becomes firmly established with local culture. The booming batik industry employs individual design talent and fosters creativity. The innovative designs are mostly unique with the island’s contemporary art and psychedelic marvels that are transformed into colourful wall hangers and pennants to flags, dresses to cushion covers and shirts to wrap-arounds.
For your very own statement batik souvenir you could visit Dudley Silva Batik and choose your best from a range of pieces that have been exhibited in galleries in Europe, from the Presidential Gold award winner in 2010 and 2011 for original and unique batik paintings with 35 years of experience.
Attractions and Sailatarama Vihara
Galgoda Sailatalaramaya Maha Vihara Temple – South Asia’s longest sleeping Buddha About 35 metres
Sunandaramaya Mahavihara – one of the earliest Buddhist temples on the south coast, with the largest thorana (gateway) in Sri Lanka
Madu Ganga Wetlands – the 915-hectare Madu Ganga Estuary is connected by two narrow channels to the Randombe Lake.