The island of Sri Lanka has a unique and enigmatic culture that is born out of a rich heritage spanning back thousands of years. The traditional masks of Sri Lanka are a renowned cultural hallmark.

Image Credit-Jerzy StrzeleckiAmbalangoda-mask1(js)CC BY 3.0

A Brief History

The origins of Sri Lankan mask-making are said to be rooted in South India, in places such as Kerala and Malabar. Sri Lankan artisans however have expanded on techniques emerging from South India to establish their own uniquely extravagant style.



It is believed that in the ancient times, Sri Lanka was ruled by a race of beings known as the Raksha whose king was the legendary Ravana. Rakshas are believed to have the ability to conjure up many forms, and the masks are based on their supposed appearances.


Sanni Yakuma

This is a traditional Sri Lanka exorcism ritual and consists of a total of 18 masked dances. It is believed that all illnesses are the cause of a demon associated with them, so this dance is believed to rid the individuals of sickness by banishing demons possessing them.


Ambalangoda Mask Museum

The entire town of Ambalangoda is renowned for its production of elaborate Raksha masks, and the town’s dedicated museum is one of the most popular Galle attractions. So if you’re vacationing at a resort nearby, by entities such as Cantaloupe Hotels, be sure to check out the museum.

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. Google+