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The Arts

The Arts

Sri Lankan visual arts, architecture, literature, music and dance, all bear the stamp of the country’s centuries-old Buddhist culture.

Poetry, as well as music and dance, were almost entirely ceremonial and devotional until well after the fall of the Kandyan Kingdom to the British, but by the mid-19th century Sri Lanka was being opened up to outside cultural influences by the advent of the printing press. However, a strongly conservative Buddhist tradition has not provided fierce political repression which followed the leftist revolts of 1971 and 1987-88 and the ethnic troubles of the 1980s and 1990s have also made it hard for writers to write freely.

That said Sri Lanka has its share of home-grown literary talent. Probably the best known of its authors is Michael Ondaatje, author of the acclaimed novel, the English Patient, which is also a popular screen picture.