4 August 2019
Dutch-Era and Sri Lankan Furniture
Sri Lanka is a great nation with a proud history. Its unique traditions and customs are as rich as any other nation. But from time to time, Sri Lankan culture has been subjected to various direct and indirect forces from the outside world. Sri Lankan tradition has evolved throughout the centuries by responding to the trends from the outside world but also has been further developed to align with local preferences.
Sri Lanka was colonized by the western powers (Portuguese, Dutch and British) from 1505 to 1948. Shadows of the western influence remain in the country to the present day. Expatriates of all three nations settled in Sri Lanka and some of their traditions and trends eventually got rooted in the country. Dutch furniture and British architecture are such significant influences.
Furniture craftsmanship and production increased during the colonial period. Acquiring ornate furniture became a trend among the colonists and high ranking local elites. During the Dutch era, furniture was initially imported from Holland, but local craftsman soon incorporating the Dutch designs into local furniture. Their influence is so extensive, that even Dutch words were incorporated into the local vocabulary – e.g. “almari” for cupboard, “kanappuwa” for stool, “lampu” for lamp.