A serious research on culture of fashion in Kotte and Kandyan periods

* Fashion of Royalty: Kotte Kingdom of Sri Lanka - Dr. Priyanka Virajini Medagedara Karunaratne
*Fashions of Royalty: The Kandyan Kingdom of Sri Lanka - Dr. Gayathri Madubhani Ranathunga


The two books under review deals with fashions of Royalty in the two historical periods in Sri Lanka. Written in an elegant style, the authors of the two books are Dr. Priyanka Virajini Medagedara Karunaratne and Dr. Gayathri Madubhani Ranathunga, senior academics of Fashion Design & Product Development of the Department of Textile and Clothing Technology, Faculty of Engineering, University of Moratuwa.

Both scholarly works bring valuable information on fashions used by our Kings, Queens and other nobles of Kotte and Kandy. At present, we are living in a fashion conscious world. The mass media plays a key role in motivating the people in this context. Fashions are an integral factor of any culture. Fashions are also changing like other aspects of material culture.

It is not far from truth that the study of fashions and costumes under historical context may be useful to understand even contemporary forms of fashions. Research-oriented studies on this subject is rare. To full fill this gap, Dr. Virajini and Dr. Gayathri have written two books titled, Fashion of Royalty: Kotte Kingdom of Sri Lanka and Fashions of Royalty: The Kandyan Kingdom of Sri Lanka.

Fashions mean cultural artifacts. Especially anthropologists have explained the changing aspects of fashions referring to traditional societies. Giving a summary of the functions of fashions, the authors elucidate the elites’ role as fashion creators. It is true that the status, power and prestige of royal elites associated with their mode of dresses and fashions.

Readers interested to know about fashions in relation to mode of dresses of both Kotte and Kandyan periods, can definitely acquire a wealth of information referring these two books. The book Fashion of Royalty: Kotte Kingdom of Sri Lanka contain seven chapters and Fashions of Royalty:

The Kandyan Kingdom of Sri Lanka contain six chapters together with a bibliography and an index.

In their prefaces, the authors mention that the present studies are the first on the subject. I too agree with them because so far, no one has conducted a serious research on culture of fashion in the Kotte and Kandyan periods. And also, these were well documented studies.

Dr. Virajini says in her book that the form of dress of queens showed a hybrid formation of South Indian and Sinhalese traditional sartorial dress features (p.33). As far as fashions are concerned, this was the situation in the 16th Century in Kandyan Kingdom.

Apat from the conclusion, which is chapter six, there is special chapter on notes on illustrations. Here, the author presents 21 sketches with brief notes on Kings and Queens of Kotte Kingdom. The book ends with five colour photographs.

Dr. Gayathri has devoted almost half of the book on notes and illustrations to explain eighteen figures of Kings, Queens and together with other valuable of Kandyan Kingdom. Figures of five Kings and against their portraits our author elucidates the special features of Kings with reference to the dresses they wore. Number of colour photographs also added by the writer.

These are outstanding books. The authors have maximum used literary and other scholarly sources in order to articulate the facts relevant to the topic. Researchers and students who need to seek knowledge on Kotte and Kandyan fashions I recommend these books as an ideal one.

Dr. Virajini and Dr. Gayathri have made valiant attempt to convince their ideas systematically. These two books are must for the bookshelves of Universities and other higher academic institutions. Finally, these are well informed and thoughtful books, which I reviewed recently.

- Professor. B.A. Tennyson Perera, Emeritus Professor in Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, Sri Jayewardenepura University.