Ariyapala mask workshop and museum in Ambalangoda – Mask makers on the island

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ambalangoda mask museum
Ambalangoda mask museum | Photo credit: Amila Tennakoon, FlickrCC BY 2.0

Ambalangoda, the coastal town, is famous for its mask making skills. This blog speaks of the art of mask making that is a priority job in Ambalangoda even in this modern day and age.

History

The Ariyapala mask workshop and museum in Ambalangoda has been in existence for about five generations now, and throughout all the years, the place has been run only by the family and still hasn’t been given to outsiders for caretaking.

What they do

mask making in ambalangoda
Various types of masks available in Ariyapala Mask Museum | Photo Credit: Vaish

They excel at making Sri Lankan traditional masks and veils, especially the ones you might see at Kandyan dance rituals or performances, even at the Perehera or religious dance festivals. We highly recommend a visit to this museum cum store to any visitor who ventures to this part of the island.

Mask Making

raksha masks at ambalangoda masks musuem
“Raksha” masks at the display. Photo Credit: Yuichiro Konno

The masks are made in a separate workshop using the wood from a fine Balsa wood. This wood is easier to carve and is softer than the others, thus the choice. After a process of cleansing, protection, and carving, the masks are then painted using natural dyes and colors to create the look you finally see at the store.

The Museum

From the many designs and creative masks to the tools that are used to make and carve the wood, this museum has many items on display.

Tips to Visit

  • Photographing is not allowed inside the museum but allowed in the workshop.
  • You can buy masks as souvenirs, prices can be vary depending on the size and complexity of the design.
  • There is no entry fee to visit the museum but they do accept donations.
  • English speaking staff will be available to explain the mask making procedure and cultural significance of each mask displayed in the museum.
  • The museum is located downstairs, And the store is found in upstairs. The workshop is attached to the side of the building.

Location

Ariyapala Mask Museum is located 41 km towards south of Kalutara town. Take the Galle road to reach Ambalangoda and turn right into the Main road,  just before reaching the town.

Address:

Ariyapala and Sons, 426, Main Street, Ambalangoda, Sri Lanka.

Telephone :

+94 91 225 8373

Fax :

+94 91 225 8948

Email :

info@masksariyapalasl.com

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