The rattan industry in Sri Lanka occupies a leading position among the local handicraft industries of Sri Lanka, which goes back many decades. Skilled artisans produced beautiful rattan designs from this country that hit the local and foreign markets. Therefore even today, there is a good demand for our unique rattan pattern designs in the foreign market.
History of the rattan industry in Sri Lanka
This industry has a long history among small industries in Sri Lanka. Evidence shows that even primitive people who lived in a very primitive state used rattan to make ladders for cutting wasps. The Sri Lankan history of the rattan industry goes back many centuries. During King Devanampiyatissa’s reign, King Dharmashoka of India was sent to this country with the Maharahat Mihidu. Among the 18 different craft groups, Kulupottan was the name given to the artisans who worked in the rattan industry. They used rattan to make various items.
There is writing about this industry in the notes of Robert Knox, who wrote the book Eda Hela Diva. He mentioned Sri Lankan works of weaving small baskets, small pots, boxes, chairs, and more from rattan reeds.
What is used to create rattan crafts?
The main raw materials used in the rattan industry are different varieties. We can see different types of rattan used to make rattan products in this country. Such as,
Rattan industry in Sri Lanka – How do artisans create unique rattan products?
In the earliest times, they removed the water after cutting because the rattans grew in water. To bend the rattans properly, they remove all the water. For that, they keep vines upright for about a week. After there is no water left, the rattans can be bent. Then they dip a piece of rattan in a kerosene container and make it into a torch, and the flame bends the vines. After a while, they used a bo lamp filled with kerosene and wind for this purpose. Even later, they used a gas torch device for this purpose. After creating perfect wewal, artisans create patterns of traditional knowledge of rattan parts connected to each other using wood and nails.
Rattan products created by Sri Lankans
Sri Lankans create many types of rattan products for the country’s market and for export to strengthen the foreign money flow to the country. Essential items, interior and exterior furniture, and decorative items are popular inside and outside the country.
Daily use essentials
Paddy boxes, linen baskets, winnowing fans, food covers, strainers, betel-leaf baskets, tea-plucking baskets, and fruit and vegetable baskets are just a few examples of the essential items created from rattan.
Heavy baskets, trays, and wickerwork are the major uses for rattan. Wall plaques, lamp shades, lamp stands, vases, letter racks, letter openers, calendars, table mats, trays, spice jars, jewelry boxes, and beautiful toys are just a few decorative products made of rattan.
Furniture suitable for anywhere
Rattan furniture includes settees, sofas, beds, dining and coffee tables, and various indoor and outdoor seats, bringing comfort and uniqueness to any place.
Artisans focused early rattan crafts mostly on furniture production, but today ornamental products are more common. There is a good demand for lampshades made from rattan in tourist hotels.
Types of rattan patterns
The rattan products created in this way are more beautiful because of the different patterns used for them. Here are a few of the designs that rattan artisans have used frequently throughout history.
- Milk rice grain pattern
- Mesh pattern
- Ring pattern
- Papaya pattern
- Wet pattern
- Python pattern
- Coil pattern
Rattan roots go to rural villages in Sri Lanka
The locations of the craft centers are near the raw material sources. The country’s rattan business was so well-liked that certain villages’ names were formed from the use of the word rattan (Wewal). Anyone visiting can still find villages like Wewaldeniya, Wewalduwa, Wewalkadura, Wewalala, and Wewalpanawa under that name.
Radawadunna village in the Gampaha district has been famous for rattan production among local and foreign tourists since ancient times. Rattan farming has been a significant part of the community for many decades. On the Colombo-Kandy highway, there are rattan shops with designs that catch the eye of local and foreign tourists on both sides of the main road since the rattan industry started in Radawadunna.
Rattan products and rattan-ware and reed-ware are a source of income for artisans who have been working in this field for centuries. The rattan industry in Sri Lanka produces well-known products worldwide and has huge earning potential.
As a handicraft industry, the rattan industry is also done through local expertise. Various rattan products are made nowadays through traditional knowledge and creative ability. Almost every manufacturer can see an increased tendency to focus on creating decorative products. There is a good demand for various animal figures made of rattan.