The beautiful of coastal town of Kalutara provides a myriad of activities for travellers including river safaris, lounging on the beach, visiting local fishing villages and much more. But if you are staying at a coastal resort such as Anantara Kalutara Resort and you seek some interesting places to visit in Kalutara as well as other attractions Down South, don’t omit the Ariyapala Mask Museum which can be easily reached from this town. This museum provides a fascinating glimpse of the ancient art of mask crafting in Sri Lanka and the traditions related to the trade including its relation to ancient dance and mystical ceremonies of the country. The entrance to the museum if free but they welcome donations if travellers are inclined that way.
The tradition of mask making is closely associated with the cultural heritage of the fishing community of Sri Lanka’s southern coast. The Ariyapala Mask Museum displays all the masks used in the ancient and mystical ceremony called the ‘Daha Ata Sanniya’ during which village shamans’ and their assistants dance the night away wearing different masks and act out various stories related to each mask. The idea was to ward off evil influences and demand demon spirits politely but firmly to leave. The masks on display are accompanied by illustrations and precise explanations, revealing the story behind each mask.
Apart from these, the museum sports a workshop where artisans carve out masks and other ornamental crafts deftly and bring out the intricate designs that they see inside simple pieces of wood. The nearby store sells masks, lacquer and bejewelled elephants, small statues and other items, painstakingly hand crafted by local artisans. The store also sells books that describe the art of mask making and the various legends behind these glorious masks in colourful details.
Fritzjames Stephen is a travel writer, who writes content based on the myriad of experiences and indulgences that the world has to offer travellers across all walks of life.