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20th December 1998

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Under a Tamarind Tree

A 'House' with a difference

By Hiranthi Fernando

Small is beautiful, aptly describes Tamarind Tree House, the little craft shop tucked away in a lane on Pedris Road. It's small area is filled with an attractive array of beautiful and unusual handicrafts.

Every available space in the little shop is taken up by a shelf, stand, stool, or basket piled with an interesting collection of items.

Wall hangings and wood carvings were displayed on the walls and some Christmas decor suspended from the ceiling.

Most of the crafts displayed at Tamarind Tree House are collected from village crafts people around the country.

"I wanted to do something other than my regular job," says Ms. Prithiva Perera, the proprietor of Tamarind Tree House.

"I went round the villages in Kandy, Galle and even up to Mahiyangana to find these craftsmen and women.

"It was rewarding work, getting the village craftspeople to change their styles and designs slightly.

"We are trying to be different from other shops," she says.

Tamarind Tree House is an interesting place to browse and admire the handiwork of traditional craftsmen and women from the villages.

There were woodcarvings done by a mother and daughter in a village near Polonnaruwa.

Painted wooden masks came from Kurunegala and the traditional 'hana' woven products from Menikhinna in Kandy.

The traditional products were modified to suit the demand.

The woven briefcases for instance were fitted with leather handles instead of the usual woven handle.

The Dumbara woven table mats too had a neat edging in place of the fringe.

From Thalagune in Uda Dumbara, there were table mats of traditional Dumbara handloom designs.

The Dumbara bell pull, a strip of Dumbara handloom with a brass bell at one end and a brass ring for hanging at the other, was a new product.

Delicate pillow lace tablecloths, place mats and runners from Galle, chunky silver and gold dipped jewellery from Kandy and red clay pottery from Kelaniya, were among the items displayed.

For Christmas, there were different kinds of candle holders, soft toys and decor. Wax filled terracotta shells were unusual as well as the polished coconut shells filled with wax.

Christmas balls and spice balls were made by a group of women in Galle.

Christmas cards of recycled paper and other decor were also to be seen.

At Tamarind Tree House, one can find household knick knacks ranging from the little terracotta figures at Rs. 15/= , to jewellery and linen up to a few thousand rupees.

Browsing through the contents of the little craft shop one could surely discover many unusual gifts this festive season.

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