Handloom Industry of Sri Lanka

It was in 543 BC that the Prince Vijaya with 700 of his followers, landed on the coppery shores of Thammennawa along the Western coast of Sri Lanka. Cast out to sea by his father, the Gujarati King Vijeyabahu, for his mischievous behavior, his ships landed to begin the Sinhala civilization. The Mahawansa or the “Great Chronicle” says  that when he stepped ashore, he first saw the Yaksha princess Kuweni spinning soft threads of cotton on her spinning wheel and it is since then that the generations of Sri Lankans have passed along the tradition of the loom. 


If you were to ever visit a handloom workshop, you will see meditative artists weaving on their handlooms. The artisans, mostly elderly ladies, coordinate the use of their eye, hands, feet and mind in perfection and the outcome is beautiful yards of colorful textile. The life of these cotton textiles begins with the dyeing of 100% cotton yarn into vibrant colors only limited by your imagination. After a 36-hour process of boiling, coloring, washing and drying, the colored yarn is ready for the weaving process. Their journey takes us next to the handloom workshops. First the dyed yarn is spun into bobbins that are then used to create the warp, which dictates the design of the length of the fabric. This warp is then transferred to the loom and woven into saris, sarongs, fabrics and other handloom textile products. This entire process can take up to 48 hours, depending on the design and more importantly;on a human angle it touches the hands and therefore the lives of many.


In Sri Lanka, the handloom industry is an important cottage industry with thousands of rural women and men depending on it for a living. The industry provides its artisans a comfortable working environment within the vicinity of their own homes and also flexible hours to attend to their agricultural and home garden plots. Today, although the industry is not as vibrant as it used to be, Sri Lankan weavers have succeeded in fashioning a distinctive identity of their own by converting the traditional woven patterns and color schemes into the beautiful modern textile designs. The industry also continues to provide a livelihood for a large number of households in the country particularly in the Northwestern, South, Central and Eastern Provinces of the country. You can also find high quality handloom products by several established companies in the local market and these beautiful and unique products make excellent memorabilia of the warm and beautiful island of Sri Lanka.


Text and images by Selyan Peiris

  • Shopping Malls

    With the increased influx of tourists and the rapid economic development in the country, shopping malls are cropping across the cities of Sri Lanka. Kandy City Centre overlooking the Kandy Lake and the Temple of the Tooth, and the Independence Arcade in Colombo next to the magnificent Independence Square offer magical and tranquil shopping experiences within the hustle and bustle of the cities. Odel, Race Course and the Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct are some of the other well frequented shopping malls. For local handicrafts, Lakpahana and Laksala are ideal outlets, while for gem shopping, it is a must to visit the gem heartland of Ratnapura. The Colombo Good Market is the premier destination for organic food and green products. Colombo is set to become one of the biggest shopping destinations in Asia within the next 5 years, due to integrated mixed development projects initiated by both international and local conglomerates.

  • Shopping

    One of the finest holiday destinations on the planet catering to all tastes and preferences, Sri Lanka promises its visitors a fantastic shopping experience with hundreds of thousands of shops offering a wide range of products, most of which are unique to Sri Lanka portraying the country's cultural richness. Sri Lanka is a fast developing country in south Asia and turning to be a shopper's paradise. Sri Lanka is most known for tea, spices, gemstones, garments, etc., and Ceylon tea, Ceylon cinnamon and blue sapphires are some of the world-renowned unique products of Sri Lanka.



    There are plenty of stuff from gems, readymade garments and batiks to tea, spices, silverware, brassware and lacquerware which you could buy while holidaying in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan foods are also popular among overseas shoppers. These souvenirs & daily necessities are available in shops across the island.


    shopping malls to small boutiques of readymade garments, gems & jewelries, handicrafts, designer items and also foods & snacks which are prepared according to Sri Lankan & foreign recipes. Tropical fruits & vegetables can be found in most of the supermarkets and fruit & vegetable stalls. Each of areas in Sri Lanka is specific for a particular industry; you can purchase brassware at Pilimatalawa, caneware at Weweldeniya, masks at Ambalangoda, Batik at Kandy and the like. There are also tea and spice sales centres located in popular tourist destinations throughout the island.


    Sri Lankan is also world-renowned for quality garments and is regarded as a producer of “garments with no guilt”. Sri Lanka's garment industry has now turned to be a fashion industry. One can buy an excellent selection of children's wear, beach wear, casual clothing for men and women and warm padded jackets at attractive prices from the shops in all major cities. Undoubtedly you will have a fantastic shopping experience during your holiday in the tropical paradise Sri Lanka.