Category Archives: paintings

Interpreting Sigiriya: Confronting Gananath Obeyesekere’s Distortions

Raja De Silva commenting on Gananāth Obēyesēkere: The Buddha in Srī Lankā. Histories and Stories. London: Routledge. 2019 336 pp.

The author [GO], an eminent anthropologist, has rejected the evidence (archaeological and literary)  that I depended on in my interpretation (de Silva, Raja 2002., 155 pp) of the meaning of Sīgiriya and its paintings: that  the site was a monastic complex and the paintings were representations of the goddess Tara.  He has criticized my thesis (1) by resorting to assertions, several untrue and the rest of no merit and (2) by asking rhetorical questions.  He has mentioned without criticism the interpretation of Sīgiriya by Siri Gunasinghe (SG) (2008), his friendly colleague of the Peradeniya University.

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Filed under accountability, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, literary achievements, paintings, self-reflexivity, the imaginary and the real

Donald Friend assessed by Venerable Bhikkhu Dhammika in 2003

In this era of political correctness and moral extremism exemplified in the Me Too movement, the assault on ‘offensive’ statues of famous men with questionable attributes, etc, etc, let me tweak the nether regions of these evangelical reformists by featuring Donald Friend, an Australian homosexual and paedophile of a brazen disposition, who displayed a wide range of artistic talents and happened to sojourn in Ceylon for quite a while — linking up with the talented and wealthy Bawa brothers (themselves members of the gay middle class community in the island’s tolerant ‘climate’– an environment that also attracted Arthur C. Clarke) …. Michael Roberts

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Filed under accountability, architects & architecture, art & allure bewitching, Australian culture, australian media, cultural transmission, education, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, meditations, paintings, politIcal discourse, psychological urges, self-reflexivity, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, tolerance, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes

Census Categorization and the Bharathas and Colombo Chetties

A Note from Fabian D. K.  Schokman of Moratuwa, 22 March 2020

Dear Michael,  Thank you for this. I believe, as with most of the “lesser minorities,” the Bharatha community did not have its own classification until the 2001 census, when there was a breakthrough mostly on account of the Chetties and their successful fight to be classed as a distinct ethnicity. Throughout census history, one can see the Chetties demanding to be classed as distinct from the Tamils. The term “race” in SL, must always be seen as a synonym for “ethnicity” and not with the same connotation it derives in the West.

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Filed under British colonialism, centre-periphery relations, communal relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, education, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, modernity & modernization, paintings, photography, population, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, transport and communications, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes

Vale Rajpal De Silva: Doctor, Historian, Art Collector and A Treasure House for Ceyloniana

Srilal Fernando … in The Ceylankan, November 2019

I write this as a personal appreciation of a dear friend Dr R.K. (Rajpal) de Silva. I shall leave it to others more qualified than me to write about his contribution  to recording the history of paintings in Sri Lanka mainly during the Colonial period.  His life at the Royal College, Colombo and his lifelong association with his schoolmates are aspects that I only know of in passing.  He has written about his life as a medical student and as a doctor which makes interesting reading.

Pix by  Athula Devapriya

When Mano rang to say that Rajpal passed away that day, I was full of grief. I had had a telephone conversation with him a few days before.   Though infirm, he was at that time full of good cheer.  It confirms the adage that “death comes like a thief in the night”.

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Filed under architects & architecture, cultural transmission, education, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, meditations, paintings, photography, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes