Laksha, lac or lacquer work can be described as the most attractive and unique of Sri Lankan handicrafts. This is especially due to the skill and patience required for the production of a finished product. Laksha items are easily recognizable from their bright spot colours, intricate patterns and designs.
Laksha is considered to be one of the 18 artisan crafts that were brought from India. The use of the artisans chisel or thumb in creating intricate linear patterns and motifs is a dying art that need preservation and respect.
Raw timber from gansuriya trees and lacquer from insect or artificial dyes.
The timber is taken and cut into the desired size/shape. The piece of wood is then affixed onto a manual rotor and finely sanded. Meanwhile the lacquer is prepared by heating the raw paste and rolling it till it becomes a hard strip.
Using the manual ‘hanaporuwa’ device (hand-operated bow string rotor) the stick of lacquer is heated and then applied to the wooden surface, The wooden item soon takes on the colour of the strip.
This process is repeated three times across three colours. The artisan then using a fine tipped blade/cutting tool, engraves spellbinding patterns, motifs and icons.
Type of Finished Products:
Flower pots, jewellery boxes, tea poy, replicas of Buddhist temple shrines, tea boxes, ash trays, maracas, candle stands, powder tins, medicine boxes, food storing tins, clothes hangers, bracelets.
Major Manufacturing Areas:
Pahala Hapuvida (Close to Matale)
Common Lacquer Motifs:
Jasmine flower wines, hansa puttuwa (motif of twin swans), elephants, lions, bulls, horses, sandakada pahana (moonstone), noble ladies
Popular Scenes depicted using Lacquer:
Tea plucking, paddy farming, fishing