Sculpturing a new set of Kolam masks commences

Among the traditional craftsmen of Sri Lanka, the wooden mask sculptors of Ambalangoda Tukkavadu Harishchandra is one of the foremost who had preserved the Kolam mask tradition in an unbroken line from father to son for over two hundred and fifty years. These masks used by the dancers in the folk art form Kolam reflect the rich culture of the southern province and prove that they are not only colourful and attractive but also expressive of the moods of different performances often satirically depicting the weaknesses of aliens who had invaded the country at different times in the past.

One of the leading craftsmen of Ambalangoda who donated a complete set of 27 Ambalangoda masks that his father had sculpted to the National Museum recently started making yet another complete set of masks at an auspicious time while the Buddhist clergy chanted pirith to invoke blessings of the deities on the project.

A large number of people in the town had gathered to witness the event presided over by the Ven Yatiyana

Seevali Thera, the chief incumbent of Okanda, Jayabodhi Viharaya. The Chairman Ambalangoda Urban Council M.W.Aruna Pradeep who garlanded the portrait of Tukkavadu Gunadasa, the father of Harischandra who was popularly known as Kolam Gurunnanse during his lifetime.

At the commencement of the event organized by the Kalaguru Tukkavadu Gunadasa commemoration committee after Harishchandra started the chiselling the first mask used in performing of Sinha Rangna dance (the lion dance) in the Kolam tradition by two local dancers.

The project of sculpting the set of Kolam masks was funded by allocating 400,000 rupees by the Chief Minister of the Southern Provincial Council, Shan Wijelal de Silva from the provincial council funds. The Chief Miniser’s Coordinating Secretary Janith Chandasiri speaking at the event said the Chief Minister was very conscious of the importance of preserving the traditional national art forms and literature.The Chief Minister wished to see the revival of the Kolam dance form once again, Chandarasiri noted.

Chairman Urban Council M.W.Aruna Pradeep said the time to think afresh about Ambalangoda had come. One section of the National Museum had been set apart for Ambalangoda craftsmen and artists and the project that was started today would be a good foundation for the revival of the great past of the town and a museum in the town among other development projects would preserve our traditions.

A number of artists and members of local bodies including the Chairman of Tukkavadu Gunadasa commemoration committee A. G. I. de Silva and Secretary Susil Maduwage were present at the event.


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