museum is designed to introduce into the richness of
the mask tradition of Ambalangoda and to strengthen
this cultural heritage. The museum, the workshop and
the small library (containing all
available anthropological literature on masks
performances) may serve as a centre for traditional
arts and crafts and for research as well.
Karava people (fisher community) living in the western
and south-western coastal areas of Sri Lanka have
developed a great variety of social customs. The
south-west coast area, es-specially Ambalangoda is
particularly well known for its masks plays and
rituals that are performed on different accasions.
Among these performances there are two famous ones,
the Kolam Maduwa and the rituals to expel evil demons
which cause diseases.
many decades, the famous masks have been highly
appreciated by private and museum collectors and other
experts. But for economic reasons mainly especially
the Kolam Dances fell into disuse during the last 3o
to 5o years and were performed only very seldom, on
the other side, mask carving has now developed into a
all the well known carvers of the area, only the
Wijesooriya family is now preserving the elaborated
traditional art of carving masks. In order to save the
local cultural heritage, the Wijesooriya family has
undertaken the tasks to carve a complete set of all
masks, 12o in number. For lack of space, however,
not all these masks can be exhibited here.
illustrate this revival in traditional carving and
mask performances two sets of masks are exhibited
here. They belong to the Kolam Maduwa and to the Sanni
Yakuma ritual as performed in Batapola and
Ambalangoda in 1985 and 1986.