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SHOPPING

BATIK

Over the past century the Indonesian art of batik-making has become firmly established in Sri Lanka. The Batik industry in Sri Lanka is a small scale industry which can employ individual design talent and creativity. Its economic benefit is profit from dealing with foreign customers. It is now the most visible of the island's crafts with galleries and factories, large and small, having sprung up in many tourist areas. Rows of small stalls selling batiks can be found all along Hikkaduwa's Galle Road strip. Mahawewa, on the other hand, is famous for its batik factories.

Batiks incorporate many motifs and colours, some traditional, others highly contemporary and individual. Many display a vigorousness of design related to their origin. The material created by the batik-makers is used to produce distinctive dresses, shirts, sarongs and beachwear well-suited for tropical climes. Many tourists at seaside resorts such as Hikkaduwa wear batik clothes throughout their holiday. Apart from clothes, tablecloths, wall pictures, beach clothes, pure cotton and silk, men's and ladies' wear and bed covers are popular as a reminder of a visit to Sri Lanka.

Batiks originated many centuries ago with the villagers and tribesmen of what are now the countries of Indonesia and Malaysia and has been brought to Sri Lanka by the Dutch. The promotion of the village arts is a way of keeping alive an important part of a vibrant and beautiful culture. Many of Sri Lanka's batik paintings are imported directly from Javanese village artists. They use 100-percent cotton cloth and all dyes used are colour-fast.

The batik art panels provide quilters, craft and home sewers, and interior designers with an opportunity to combine an ancient art form with a contemporary use. Since each batik piece is individually handmade, the colours and designs may vary. Originally, when batik-making was a cottage industry, one artist created the entire batik from start to finish.

GEM AND JEWELERY

Srilanka the Gorgeous Pearl of The Indian Ocean is not only a beautiful Island nation veiled by the “Endless Sheets of Heaven” , The Magnificently Picturesque Nation is a “Treasure Island”, enriched with the astonishing splendor of vividly coloured bewitching gem stones that glitter to outshine the twinkling stars of a cloudless night.

The brilliance of Coloured stones from the “Serendib” (Sri Lanka) have inspired ancient Kings, Infamous Silk Road Traders of Chinese & Arabian & Chinese origin as well as Historians of medieval ancestry to affectionately nick name their precious little Island as “Rathna Dveepaya” to mean “The Gemmed Island” in English.

SPICE GARDENS

Enjoy the Sri Lanka’s world renowned spices at their source. Visit a spice garden, where smells of cinnamons, pepper, cardamom, nutmeg and mace overwhelm the senses and the visitors are provided an insight into an age old industry of spice production, which attracted many a European and Asian merchants to the ports of ancient Sri Lanka.

TEA

Tea production is one of the main sources of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka (formerly called Ceylon), and accounts for 2% of GDP, contributing over US $1.5 billion in 2013 to the economy of Sri Lanka.It employs, directly or indirectly, over 1 million people, and in 1995 directly employed 215,338 on tea plantations and estates. In addition, tea planting by smallholders is the source of employment for thousands whilst it is also the main form of livelihoods for tens of thousands of families. Sri Lanka is the world's fourth-largest producer of tea. In 1995, it was the world's leading exporter of tea (rather than producer), with 23% of the total world export, but it has since been surpassed by Kenya. The highest production of 340 million kg was recorded in 2013, while the production in 2014 was slightly reduced to 338 million kg.

The humidity, cool temperatures, and rainfall of the country's central highlands provide a climate that favors the production of high-quality tea. On the other hand, tea produced in low-elevation areas such as Matara, Galle and Ratanapura districts with high rainfall and warm temperature has high level of astringent properties. The tea biomass production itself is higher in low-elevation areas. Such tea is popular in the Middle eastern countries. The industry was introduced to the country in 1867 by James Taylor, a British planter who arrived in 1852. Tea planting under smallholder condition has become popular in the 1970s.

HANDI CRAFT

Sri Lanka handicrafts are of a history that runs back to millenniums. Production of Sri Lanka’s handicrafts, with the exception of Jewelry, is essentially a cottage industry: products are turned out making use of natural raw materials by means of time tested age-old techniques. The traditional skills have been preserved with its purity, resulting in the continuance of characteristic identity of Sri Lanka Handicrafts.

Sri Lanka’s ancient social system having its Indo-Aryan roots has been largely instrumental in preserving traditional skills with its characteristic identity; certain arts and crafts were assigned to defined socio-occupational groups.

Sri Lanka’s wide variety of very attractive handicrafts can be found throughout the island in shops, street stalls and government-run stores. Ivory and tortoise shell handicrafts once sold at large, are no longer legal in Sri Lanka.

ANTIQUES

There are some of us who live by the saying, old is gold, and that’s why we hold on to those quirky valuables and collectibles for as long as we can. Be it rare old ornaments, maps, paintings or furniture, door and window frames; there are people who just can’t resist but fall in love with their old charm. Lucky for them, there are many stores in Colombo and suburbs that sell antiques, and also offer a wide collection to select from. Walk into any of these shops, and we guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.

BRASSWARE

More than any other metal, brass adds a shine to a Sri Lankan home. Every Sri Lankan family owns a collection of traditional brassware, often a treasured heirloom passed down generations.

Central to the collection is the ornamental brass lamp,used to inaugurate almost every special function and ceremony. No Sri Lankan home is complete without one. Sri Lankans believe that lighting an oil lamp brings luck, and what better lamp to light than one made of ornate gleaming golden brass.

Sri Lanka's brassware industry, now very much a part of the country's culture and national crafts, is widely believed to be a colonial Dutch import, although it is also possible that it arrived from the Indian subcontinent or was brought by the Arab traders who first visited the island. A thriving brass industry has existed across India from ancient times, while brassware was said to have been produced in the Middle East as far back as the fourth Century BC.

Nevertheless, the country has a long history of metal work, with archaeological finds of smelting furnaces dating from the earliest times of human habitation on the island. The island is well known for its steel and copper crafts, said to have been so highly developed in ancient times, that the country was exporting steel to Damascus. Archeological findings of steel and copper surgical instruments have been discovered in the east central region, especially in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. Bronze, which arrived in the eighth Century, also took firm root in the island. Nevertheless, there is no mention of brass products in ancient times.

The village of Angulmaduwa, seven kilometres from Beliatta in the southern district of Hambantota, is said to have birthed the country's first brassware. Famed for its skilled metal artisans, Angulmaduwa is said to have begun producing brass products after the Dutch occupation in the 17th Century. The Dutch wanted brass items for their horse-drawn carriages and so these artisans met the need.