Re-positioning traditional Sri Lankan arts and crafts – Batik & Beeralu

Sri Lanka is rich in traditions and creativity – for centuries, we have been nurtured in an atmosphere of lovingly crafted art, be it in carved stone, wood, or pottery. As time progressed, many other art forms have been added, making the national heritage of arts and crafts broader than before.

In modern times, these arts and crafts have taken a back seat for various reasons although valiant efforts have indeed been made to revive them. Batik is one such art that has been revived and brought back into the fold of high fashion – a few innovative Sri Lankan designers can take the credit for this achievement. Today, batik silk saris and blouses fetch top prices and can be seen on the fashionable pack at any given time.

Ancient arts of Beeralu & lace –

As a traditional Sri Lankan Arts and crafts, The beautiful art of beeralu and lace making has also been included in such a revival. Beeralu saris, cushion covers, and table runners have become trendy everyday items.  Yet, for most others, revival must come hand in hand with making the society aware of the beauty and the elegance of traditional arts and crafts.

There are many such opportunities and not all of them need to be painfully expensive fashion endeavours only the rich can aspire to. Incorporating them into everyday life and increasing or enhancing their usage would no doubt heighten the awareness generated of their existence and relevance.

Traditional crafts get pride of place –

We this at work in India – Indian saris or traditional arts and crafts are given the pride of place in most fashionable activities. There are stories built and created around the products that enhance their unique placement and identity. Looking for traditional silk saris on an Indian sari website is like learning about the hues, traditions, and the enchanting stories behind each creation. It takes you on a journey of discovery and such beauty that you feel it just by buying one and draping it around you.

The traditional industries typically have many stories to tell. They are enriched with history and rich with anecdotes of wisdom and identity. Reviving them the right way is also sharing our heritage with our children who are typically occupied with electronic gadgetry and wired to connect with each other or the rest of the world. Taking them and getting them involved with the traditional industries can only empower them with their own unique stamp of identity, enabling them to be set apart from the rest of the ‘clones’.

Relaunching the traditional wares –

There are so many ways in which we can bring life back to our traditional industries and it doesn’t have to be the job of the experts. It can be a national effort shared by many. With social media at hand, a world out there every ready marketplace, reviving and placing them in their own unique slot in the face of the world, can open many doors to new markets.

Let’s look beyond the current positioning’s –

To do this, we need to look beyond the traditional Sri Lankan elephants and souvenirs being sold to tourists concept. We need to be able to relook at the traditional products we have and then reevaluate how we can incorporate them in various ways. For example, Sri Lankan food is such a global hit and Sri Lankan chefs have brought our dishes to the world’s culinary stage. How can we make use of such opportunities to highlight the cooking utensils, the traditional curry powders, and other relevant items that make Sri Lankan food such a hit – we need change our way of thinking and apply new knowledge to these aspects.

Bringing traditional products and arts and crafts to the modern-day stage

Can be done and has been done before. In the developed world, a top dollar is always paid to handcrafted items – the thinking is that what is crafted by the human hand is a labour of love and is worth the price. We have so many handcrafted items in our traditional product range. Can we highlight them better, placing them in the right setting so that they can be brought out for their exceptional beauty and grace?

All over the world, the traditional is becoming fashionable again 

Because tradition often means an identity. With a rich heritage, one we love to talk about, we can and must be able to bring it out on to the world stage and showcase them better.

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