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Tricks of The Trade – A Shopper’s Guide To Sri Lanka

Diversity is the key to good, genuine local produce. Perhaps this is why South Asian markets have always been renowned throughout the world. Although South Asian countries aren’t popular for reputed fashion brands or popular malls. These countries often thrive through independent businesses and small scale industries. Don’t get me wrong, most of the South Asian countries are heavily urbanized and pack tremendous potential when it comes to tapping into their trade scope. However, countries like India and Sri Lanka have often relied on local produce and goods to push and sustain their economies. Speaking of Sri Lanka, things can get a bit dicey if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, and the ‘where’ part of it can be even more confusing. Worry not, here’s a comprehensive guide which will help you to identify what to shop, and where you can find it in the country. Check it out! 

Batik Clothes 

For those who are unaware of Batik, it is an Indonesian process of wax resist dyeing to the whole cloth in order to carve out designs. The Dutch introduced the art of making Batik clothes to Sri Lanka through Indonesia. Originating in Java, Indonesia, the process involves applying wax to areas of the cloth that won’t be dyed. After the initial washout, new wax and dye need to be applied. The same process is repeated several times till the clothes gain a very distinguished look which is a trademark for Batik clothing. The Sri Lankan city of Matara has a reputation for crafting some of the most exquisite Batik clothing, and their clientele includes the British monarchy. 

Sri Lankan Lace 

Lace making is one of the most complicated and painstaking form of art. It involves hours of detailed work, which can be heavy on the eyes and spine due to the constant crouching posture required to create Lace. Passed on to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese in the late 16th century, Lace makers in Sri Lanka have toiled enormously to perfect this art. Even today, as you explore the markets of Galle, you will be greeted by Lace makers as they display their handcrafted Lace designs. Naturally, authentic Laces are slightly expensive considering the effort involved. Galle and Weligama are the two quintessential places in Sri Lanka where you can buy authentic Lace. 

Ceylon Tea 

Tea Production has single-handedly been responsible for the largest contribution to Sri Lanka’s GDP. The tea industry employs over 1 million people in Sri Lanka, making Sri Lanka the fourth-largest producer of tea. Favorable climatic conditions have ensured that the country’s economy thrives enormously on tea plantations. Originating from Ceylon in Sri Lanka, the Ceylon Tea took Europe by storm when trading channels transported Ceylon Tea to the Dutch and Portuguese in the 18th century. Since then, Ceylon Tea has been the Rolls Royce of tea brands, earning Sri Lanka a tremendous reputation in the world. Ceylon, of course, is the best place to buy tea in Sri Lanka. However, the Galle markets might introduce you to lesser-known but equally amazing tea brands as well! 

Gems 

Sri Lanka has been a massive exporter of precious gems for the past two centuries. Washed down from the mountain tops during monsoon, these gems are collected precariously by the Sri Lankan gem merchants. Rubies, sapphires, amethysts, cat’s eyes are some of the prominent and extravagant precious stones exported by Sri Lanka. Markets in Galle are your best chance of buying authentic Sri Lankan gems, however, ensure that you’re in the company of a trusted local, to avoid being duped. 

Metalwork 

The art of crafting intricate metal goods is something the Sri Lankan residents know all too well. Ceremonial brass lamps, utensils, decorative statues, and carved food plates are breathtaking and popular in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka to be precise. The Sri Lankan metalworkers work extremely hard on their metal goods, and it takes enormous time to shape metal into the desired shape by hand. Metal goods in Sri Lanka are widely considered to be one of the best in the continent, with a few pieces gracing the White house as well as Buckingham Palace. 

Curated by Yashodhaan Burange

Photo Credits – Wikipedia Commons, Pexels, Shutterstock, Unsplash (In no fixed order)