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explore the “heritage of handloom” in Sri Lanka


Ancient legend states that when Vijaya arrived on this island an indigenous princess named Kuveni was spinning yarn in Ceylon. Based on this, it could be assumed that weaving has taken place in Sri Lanka starting with its very first inhabitants and today’s local weavers carry a rich legacy of culture and inherited skills.


Traditionally Sri Lanka’s weaving community was made up of two groups, one being the migrants/workers that were brought down from India to weave gold attire for the royals, and the other being the indigenous weaving communities such as those found in Thalagune. The Arab traders and the Moor communities also have had an influence on the local handloom traditions.


The yarn used for handlooms, is spun at home from cotton cultivated in chenas. Especially in Thalagune, being one of the indigenous communities, they tend to use a different variety of colours and patterns compared with most commercial weaving. The most repetitive patterns one might recognise are often inspired by nature, such as the sun, moon, stars and elephants, along with geometrical patterns.


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