Workshop & Conference SOMANA, SOMAN AND BEYOND


Sunday, 16.10.2022 at 9 AM (IST)

Goethe-Institut Colombo

European Union Textile Conference | Fringe Session

The Fringe Sessions planned around the European Union Textile Conference is for the purpose of extending knowledge and textile research in the region.

For this workshop and conference at the Goethe-Institut students from the north, east, central as well as Colombo area have been invited. If you wish to attend the event you can register here


Dimuthu and Dulani Bambaradeniya | Textile and family identity Textile and family identity
This presentation introduces the Upcountry Kandyan Tradition of costumes worn at Raja Maha Vihara and Devale rituals and other ceremonies. The textiles presented here are family heirlooms which are still being used on special occasions such as perahera, upasampada (ceremony of higher ordination) and weddings. They denote the class and the prestige of the Nilame officiating at the ceremony. They have been handed down over generations and not been loaned or rented to outsiders. We shall also discuss the actual material known in research as the "Thuppotiya", "Mul Aduma", "Somana", "Kavaniya" and "Pacchavdam” discussing the specific occasion they were worn. Questioning whether the textiles were an exclusive privilege of males, we also venture to ceremonial costumes of women too. My presentation will be supplemented by rare photographs from family collections.

Abdul Raheem Jesmil | East Coast textiles, worn by brides and bridegrooms, early 20th century
This article examines the design of the Soman saree in Eastern Muslim dress style. In the 1950s, Soman saris and sarongs became a prominent fashion in the East and was common for both men and women. Folk lyrics of the eastern Muslims refers to the Soman sari and highlight the importance of Soman sari dress in Eastern Muslim culture. This type of soman sari was imported from India, and mentioned by S H M Jemeel in his book ( கிராமத்து இதயம்) The Heart of the Village. Some references of clothes belonging to Soman types were worn by men such as saram, (sarong) shawl and handkerchief. The word Soman has the connotation of auspicious, however it is unclear whether it is a causative name (contributory) or a genitive name (grammatical). Further research is required on the use of this term.

Darshi Keerthisena | Batik craft meets contemporary design
Buddhi Batiks are made at a workshop that supports and hires exclusively from the village of Koswadiya, where the batik craft is practiced by women, some of whom have been with the workshop since the company’s inception in 1970 and whom Darshi considers the life blood of her business. Darshi follows the footsteps of her father Buddhi Keerthisena, the pioneer in the Batik Industry, taking the inherited tradition to meet high end Batiks with most innovate designs. The presentation will trace back to the designs, textiles, dying and techniques of fifty years of Batik design that once began by her father as a hobby.

Sulakshana de Mel | Costumes Speak
An introduction to a forthcoming exhibit that reads colonial power hierarchies, socio-cultural influences, trade links, and gender through the costumes of different string puppets from Ambalangoda. This short presentation shows life-sized costumes with printed somana cloths among others worn as garments by coastal and central region Sinhalese families during the colonial period. Some of the puppets are also seen wearing somana garments. The exhibit will be launched at the workshop at the Goethe Institute from 9.30am-3pm on the16th of October, 2022.

The fringe events are organized and assisted by Ayesha Abdur-Rahman, Lanka Decorative Arts; Prof Asoka de Zoysa, Ganga Rajinee Dissanayaka and Ransima, Samkathana Research Center and Archive; Ramla Wahab-Salman, Acting Director American Institute for Lanka Studies; and Sulakshana de Mel, Collective for Historical Dialog and Memory. The Goethe-Institut is the venue partner for the workshop on October 16.