The Pottery Industry In Sri Lanka Ranks At The Top In Exporting Unique Clay Artifacts Worldwide.


Pottery refers to all clay-based products fired to a hard surface. From the very dawn of human history, it has been a necessary component of human life. When considering the pottery community that inherited the clay industry is the first creative people in the world who lived 9000 years ago. The pottery industry in Sri Lanka is fortunate that Sri Lankan artisans have been able to pass down their traditional knowledge of their craft from one generation to the next without losing it.

The pottery industry in Sri Lanka runs back to ancient civilizations.

As the primitive people who lived in Sri Lanka moved from the hunter age to a domestic farming age, They created the necessary background for making pottery. Archeological evidence suggests that the history of pottery industry in Sri Lanka originated during the Megalithic era and afterward grew gradually. Even when the Aryans came to Sri Lanka, the people in this country knew about the pottery industry. Ancient people had the knowledge and ability to produce what they needed here using local raw materials. At that time, the people who lived near the river valleys could easily find the raw materials needed to make pottery. Various pieces of evidence that the people who lived in the country used pottery have been found in the excavations carried out at the archaeological sites.

‘The Mahavamsa’ testifies that King Pandukabhaya created houses for different people in the city’s layout. The Anuradhapura period’s tile and brick industries are also mentioned, as well as the clay in Thupavamsaye, known as Navaneetha. It further describes how to get clay suitable for preparing tiles and bricks. The literary sources reflect that King Devanampiyatissa had reserved a place for the potters to get clay while marking the city boundaries.

pottery industry in Sri Lanka

New crafts gifted to Sri Lankans

It is mentioned in history that with the “Mahindagamanaya,” the crafts of eighteen castes came to Sri Lanka. ‘The Mahavamsa’ also mentions people belonging to the pottery caste in describing the arrival of Mahabodhi. The pottery industry, which saw little development in the 3rd century AD, was very advanced by the 4th – 5th centuries AD. It is a fact that by the early period, even foreign pottery was used, and Sri Lankans adopted technically advanced techniques. By the Polonnaruwa era, the pottery industry was very advanced. The emergence of pottery colonies and the development of handicrafts in Sri Lanka well implies this.

How do the artisans get materials for pottery?

Lakes and fields provide the clay needed for the pottery industry. Go down to the bottom of the lake and take suitable clay and sand, like very fine dust, and mix it well. After that, clay lumps are separated into required quantities.

Methods of creating pottery in Sri Lanka

The making of pottery involves a variety of techniques. The method of making pottery by hand is the simplest. A lump of clay is placed on the palm and pressed with the thumb to create an aperture. Then with the help of fingers, you can create objects in different shapes. This was the method used to make pottery before the invention of machinery.

The ancient pottery industry became very advanced with the arrival of Sakaporuwa. In the past, Sri Lankans needed a separate person to spin the Sakapora. Later, foot-operated sakaporu were created, and nowadays, these sakaporu are operated using electric motors.

Uses of clay industry in Sri Lanka

You can see a lot of products made with clay.

  • Household appliances (pots, pots, pans, stoves, stoves)
  • Building roofs (beeli tiles, boku tiles, top tiles, keku tiles)
  • Production of artistic pottery (decorative ornaments, vases, various Animals, coins, bowls, hanging boards)

Traditional clay-based cooking utensils still play a significant part in the neighborhood kitchen. Following shaping, potters either let these pots cure in the sun for a few days or kiln-fire them to make them brittle and hard. Therefore, these pots are not harmed even after hours of the fire. It is noteworthy that the Hela people have cooked their food in clay pots since the beginning. They preserved their health by carefully absorbing the extra oil from the food into these pots. Beautiful clay jewelry is more popular among tourists than indigenous. Antique Sri Lankan homes have a lot of pottery.

Uses of clay industry in Sri Lanka

Decorating pottery

In the decoration of pottery products, the prepared products are left to dry and decorated using techniques such as engraving, seals, and liquid painting. There are leaves, swirls, zeros, birds, leaves, and flowers that many pottery products use as embellishments.

Locations: Where is the pottery industry in Sri Lanka?

Is there a pottery village Sri Lanka? It is not limited to one. When tourists travel into the country, they can explore many pottery crafting villages such as,

  • Dankotuwa – Kirimetiyana
  • Nattandiya – Walahapitiya
  • Kegalle – Molagoda
  • Wariyapola – Katupotha
  • Kelaniya – Biyagama

Meanwhile, Matara, Negombo, Galle, Kelaniya, and Kegalle rank high as the most popular areas for the pottery industry in Sri Lanka.


Ancient Sri Lankan societies started the craft by creating pottery, which they employed for daily needs, including domestic items, religious activities, and other home chores. Pottery is an essential field where Sri Lankans possess exceptional talents. The pottery industry in Sri Lanka has grown to the top, and a little island in the globe produces pottery of the highest caliber. With a few brand names that have become world-renowned, such as Dankotuwa Porcelain and Midaya Ceramics.


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