It is said that oil was the primary fuel of the 20th century economy, while creativity is the fuel of the 21st century.
Creative industries encourage a broad range of activities that have their origin in individual creativity, skill, and talent and have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation. Sri Lanka’s creative sector can be broadly divided into three categories as Arts and culture, design, and media. Under Arts and cultural sector, Sri Lanka has a proud heritage of arts and crafts from ancient times. ”Helasa” is an execution to explore through the depth of these industries and an initiative approach to address their current plight with the prevailing circumstances.
One of the oldest lines of craftwork in Sri Lanka, Pottery is still popular in this modern times of steel and plastic. Amidst all these newest trends there is one special occasion where the clay pot is the thing, which is the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. With the newly introduced substitutes in the current market, pottery products have lost their established position in it. Rtr. Nipuni Kadupitiya penned on this topic discussing the reasons which have come together to obstruct the development of the industry.
The term “puppet” which is “ruukada” in Sinhala, is literally a figure or doll of wood representing humans and animals which are carved by the art specialists living on the Southeast coast. Rtr. Hirusha Munasinghe takes us through the deep insights of this industry, starting from the process of making puppets to the uneasy situation of these craft men at present, saying that this is an industry which we should conserve for our future generations.
Rtr. Dahami Gunathilake takes us on a journey to her childhood days, where she used to listen to her grandma’s stories about the beeralu lace-making women known as “beeralu manikela” of down south. Beeralu industry which was established during colonial times has now developed into a reputed household industry. Mentioning about how fascinating it is to see, how the hands of these ladies handle the tools to create intricate patterns, she reveals the dark reality of the industry at present where at the ending note she penned that neither her grandmother nor her mom taught her this magical process, making us think deeply while keeping a lot unsaid.
Talking about the cane industry in Sri Lanka, Rtr. Harith Kulatunga recalls his childhood memories, making us relate them to ours, where we used to be punished with canes. He addresses the difficulties which the industry men face with the reduction of the market gain, highlighting the reasons caused, making it the center of attention convincing the fact that, being a household industry which can make a great impact on the Sri Lankan economy along with tourism, the relevant authorities should take steps to protect this economically beneficial industry.
With the roots tracing back to Indonesia, the creation of Batiks has earned a title role in the definition of Sri Lankan handicrafts. As Rtr. Sumudu Tennakoon penned down interesting stories on the production process of the Sri Lankan Batiks, she has not forgotten to talk about the newest trends among the youth related to Batiks and the significance of it in the Sri Lankan economy.
Taking us down through the deep insights of our very own Sri Lankan masks industry, Rtr. Sachini Ranasinghe talks about how it is deeply connected to Sri Lankan folklore and how masks come into play in our traditional rituals. She highlights the fact that Sri Lankan masks are popular among tourists and in foreign markets. Nevertheless, it has started losing its dignity and the pride it owns, due to the lack of infrastructure facilities at present, as she makes a wish for the betterment of the industry at the ending note.
Sri Lankan mat weaving industry is another least discussed topic nowadays, as it receives less importance in its own origin. Rtr. Chalani Wijamunige brings out the heritage it carries and how it ended up being a declining industry eventually. Mat weaving industry is still in the traditional hands of people who have been engaging in it for ages, which the authorities should take steps to train employees to uplift these industries as she mentions that lack of labor is one of the major reasons for these present consequences, putting her thoughts on this valuable art of weaving into a verse at the ending note.
RACFOSUOC successfully marked the end of the journey “Helasa”, bringing out the insights of these seven different industries related to arts and culture, discussing the timely topic on their degradation, convincing the fact that essential steps need to be taken by the authorities in order to conserve these industries for our future generations to be proud of our Sri Lankan heritage.
By Rtr. Chalani Wijamunige
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