Artisans Give Life To The Dutch Lace Industry Sri Lanka String By String!

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A complex type of lace weaving is called beeralu. Beeralu lace weaving is one of the nation’s oldest traditional industries. Sri Lankan women formerly owned and operated beeralu renda weaving by households. Since the Dutch lace industry Sri Lanka is entirely handmade and manufactured using a conventional manner of weaving lace, the lace has a charm all its own. Now the craft has subsequently modernized. It is also a highly valued material in the textile business.

Dutch lace industry Sri Lanka, from adapting to creating a perfect craft… 

The lace is known as bobbin lace in English and beeralu renda in Sinhalese due to the use of bobbins. The name “beeralu” is really derived from the Portuguese words “bilro,” which means “bobbin,” and “renda,” which means “lace.” Six hundred years ago, the Portuguese introduced the art of renda design to the areas around Galle. It shows in history that Sri Lanka had acquired a reputation as a trade center that provided the world with beeralu renda and beeralu renda based on the port of Galle. A favorite dress of the women of the coastal fishing industry in the south was the “Kabakurutttuwa” top, which was made of cotton cloth with a catch of beeralu renda.

Dutch lace industry Sri Lanka

Dutch lace industry – Sri Lanka History of beeralu renda

Lace is called “renda” locally in Peninsula Malaysia and the Indonesian archipelago. It was thought that the Portuguese brought this incredibly time-consuming art with them when they established Malacca and the Indonesian Moluccas archipelago. Variations of crocheting and beeralu lace weaving only appeared in the area once Malays from Indonesia and the Malay region arrived.

After 1580, when the Portuguese captured the port of Galle and the “Kabakuruttuwa,” the tapestry weaving on them became popular in the coastal areas. Historical evidence says that the art of beeralu renda weaving was taught to Sri Lankan women by Portuguese women. The Dutch women who came later also strongly desired to wear clothes sewn from Renda. Therefore, this art was further encouraged.

How do Sri Lankans create beeralu renda designs?

What are the unique materials Sri Lankans use to create a beeralu design? Plain white cotton yarn is the primary raw material used to make Beeralu lace, though there is also flashy gold and silver yarn nowadays. In the past, artisans specifically produced cotton into yarn for this application, but currently, regular cotton is spun instead.

The process which leads to beeralu design

Beeralu renda art is an art that uses advanced design methods. For this purpose, artisans use the “Renda Kottaya” pillow made of wood. Its cylindrical form is filled with fabric and lined with coir paper. Artisans draw the paint pattern with a pencil on chart paper. On a cardboard strip, they create by using a pin to poke holes where the drawings are to go. Then they attach it to the previously mentioned cylinder by pins.

Artisans call the cardboard the stencil. They fix the pins in the appropriate places and wrap the beads around the pins and throw the beads back and forth on the knitting pillow to create a beautiful design. It is a special fact that only the esbisala (mold or stencil) introduced by the Portuguese is still woven from these.

What products does the beeralu industry offer?

Beerlalu lace shops are the main attraction of tourists and locals who love fashion. Because of this handicraft’s originality, it has a higher value on the market and in society. Artisans create a range of products using beeralu renda. Such as,

    • Table decor
  • Beeralu saree
  • Chair covers
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Hems of window cloths
  • Hems of women’s clothes
  • Table mats
  • Shirt collars
  • Coasters
  • Cushion covers

Beeralu lace price in Sri Lanka varies with each product. Yet they all share an affordable price range. From a beeralu lace priced at Rs. 800 (2.17 USD) to a beeralu saree which costs Rs. 13,500 (36.64 USD).

Beeralu renda

Handicraft shares a special relationship with women

This renda art, created by wives and daughters of low-income families, especially from the women’s side, became popular among the upper classes as a model. This thread’s weaving connects to the era of upper-caste ladies who resided along the low country’s shore. The historical works also feature ladies from South Lak’s coastal caste ‘Gamperaliya’ created by Lester James Peirce, and ‘Kadulla’ created by Dharmasena Pathiraja. The Magalle district of Galle is home to several artists who have significantly advanced the art of Beeralu Lace.

Expansion of beeralu lace Sri Lanka

Around the turn of the 20th and late 19th centuries, the hitherto domestic beeralu lace industry in Sri Lanka transformed into a commercial one, and by the 1970s, there was significant foreign demand for these goods. The records claim that the art of Beeralu Lace later colonized Weligama, Kathaluwa, Dodanduwa, Ambalangoda, and Dondra after it initially emerged in the Galle region.

Tourist attraction to Sri Lankan beeralu lace

One of the specialties that many tourists sincerely look for is beeralu craft. As a cottage craft that is particularly prevalent in the south, beeralu art has gained a worldwide reputation. It’s impressive to watch the weaving process in action. Visitors worldwide swarm Sri Lankan villages to observe the housewives creating these complex patterns of lace. The weaver must invest much time, expertise, and effort in it. Consequently, it has become a popular destination for travelers and art lovers. Visits to the centers where Beeralu lace is made are prevalent and have therefore played a significant role in preserving this endangered trade.

Conclusion

One of the key facets of Sri Lanka’s legacy is beeralu, or the art of producing lace. Dutch lace industry Sri Lanka has a lengthy history of national recognition as a craft. Sri Lankan women who inherit unique talents contribute to the growth and expansion of the Dutch lace industry in Sri Lanka. Both domestically and abroad, there is a significant market for Beeralu Lace.

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