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Postcard from Sri Lanka ... The Wood Carvers

Door carving

A representation of a lotus flower on the door to a Hindu temple.

It's a long tradition that is handed down from father to son.

Although the tools are simple - a few chisels of various sizes, files and gouges - wood carving is a specialised skill. Some traditional shapes do not change from one generation to another.

We visited a workshop near Polonnararuwa. There were around 5 workers, some in the process of completing some very large carvings of elephants. Behind the workshop was a large display area with a big selection of carvings for sale. There was also a wide variety of furniture available and signs up to say "Orders can be Taken" and "We ship to any part of the World".

The local craftsmen can earn a reasonable living producing popular "tourist" lines. Some of the work is very detailed with fine artwork being produced using traditional techniques.

Images of Buddha and native animals are the most popular subjects for local craftsmen. Some carvers will specialise in making masks.

You can spend time watching the skill of these craftsmen as they whittle and chisel and put something of themselves into their art.

We were attracted to a small round mahogany table - and when we found that it actually folded flat, we were sold.

The top of the table measures about 40 cms across and it stands around 60 cms high. It's great to bring out when we need an extra table to serve some snacks. The round top has a fine copper inlay in a scroll pattern and the base has wooden lattice carving.

Wood carver at work

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