Sri Lankan Art Designs and Punkalasa Art

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Punkalasa Art

The origins of Sri Lankan Punkalasa art

Sri Lanka is a relatively small island country in the Indian Ocean. Despite having a relatively short 2,500-year history, the country is well versed in its artistic roots. One of its traditional art forms is Punkalasa, an exotically beautiful art.

Sri Lanka's art history

Sri Lanka has a lot to offer when it comes to art. As with other countries, most of its artistic roots come from religious traditions and cultural beliefs. Its long standing Buddhist culture has influenced most of the Sri Lankan art. This influence can be seen in their paintings and sculptures, including architecture.

Reclining statuette of Buddha

Buddhist tradition can be often seen in Sri Lanka's art - such as the above figurine. (Image by

In addition to its Buddhist traditions, Sri Lankan art has also been partially influenced by other religions, such as Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, all of which are represented by small percentage of populace. There are also some foreign influences from the colonial era.

Sri Lanka's art history can be traced to as far as the second century BC. Chronicles like Mahavamsa, written in the sixth century AD, has numerous references to the country's art. Remains of wall paintings from Buddhist stupas have been found on many of the country's of archaeological sites. The Mahavamsa book also refers to various other paintings and sculptures throughout the country. The earliest reference to a Sri Lankan painting is that of the palace. Its drawn on a piece of cloth using cinnabar.

Punkalasa art

The Indian touch in most of the Sri Lankan art is striking. Sri Lanka was one of India's most important trading partners during Mauryan Empire in India, 300-200 years BC. This had a great influence in their art and history.

But that didn't hinder the country from developing its own traditions and art, including Pun Kalasa, which is probably Sri Lanka's truly national art. The country presents its art mainly in terms of Anuradhapura, Dambadeniya, Polonnaruwa, Kotte, Yapahuwa, Gampola and Kandy. The artistic relics of most of these periods are restricted to paintings and sculptures.

Punkalasa art design, hand painted

Punkalasa art is depicted on this image of one of Lotus Sunrise original designs

Pun Kalasa (pot of plenty) art is mainly depicted as a figure of coconut flowers on a pot. It's considered as the sole symbol of prosperity during these times. According to Buddhist culture, a full pot depicts fertility, prosperity and wealth.

A more poetic name for Punkalasa in Sri Lanka is gok gediya. The art of making Punkalasa constructions, often done from coconut palm leaves, is known as Gokkalawa. This is a fine folk art form, using only native materials.

Pun Kalasa artistic sculptures are found on various archaeological digs around the country. In certain cases, the sculpture has been made to stand out on a lotus. Hence historians around the world are of the same opinion that Pun Kalasa depicts prosperity and wealth.

© 2006 This article is copyrighted and property of Lotus Sunrise Designs. All rights reserved.

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  • Sinhalese Line Art - Lotus Sunrise collections prominently feature Sinhalese line art tradition. 
  • Sri Lanka Holidays - This beautiful island with its rich historical background has a lot to offer to its visitors. 
  • Tangalle Sri Lanka - This wild and untamed country is filled with natural wonders, making it a great holiday destination. 

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