For over two centuries, the handmade tools and basic equipment used in creating Ambalangoda’s famous ‘Kolam’ masks have remained largely unchanged. Janaka, the local mask-maker who hosts this experience, has plied his trade for several decades by skillfully employing their use. This novel experience immerses you in the tradition of mask carving. Chiseling away at the firm slabs of wood, you can’t help but feel connected to the wider practice of mask-making and its intrinsic role in the many cultural, religious, and spiritual practices common to
our Island. Tucked into the back of the store he maintains within the iconic Galle Fort is his courtyard, which doubles as his workspace. Decades were spent mastering his craft before he could afford this upscale yet intimate studio. The intricate incisions and markings carved into the masks take years of painstaking labour to perfect. The ‘Mask Carving’ experience is only but a brief foray into his world; however, to be patiently guided in his craft by an artisan of Janaka’s ilk is an absolute treat. It will certainly leave a lifelong impression on children and adults alike.