The skill of bending the pliable cane into eco-friendly furniture and utensils is an ancient one, passed down the generations in certain villagers in Sri Lanka, especially in the east of the Island. Due to the growth in plastic and fibre goods, however, it is now a fast disappearing industry. In Manampitiya, like most places in the Polonnaruwa district, sourcing raw material for the cane industry used to be a popular source of income. Until the more lucrative business of supplying raw materials for the construction industry took off, that is.
Today only a handful of families engage in wewel, or cane production and retail. The types of cane used are kukul wewel – the thinner cane used for weaving and intricate crafts – and ma wewel – the thicker and stronger cane used to form the bases of items of furniture.
Bamboo and cane or rattans are considered as the non- timber forest materials and they are a good alternative for the increasing need for wood. Bamboo has not been cultivated systematically in Sri Lanka Although there are more than 17 varieties of bamboo, yet only a few species are used in the making of products such as yellow, golden, and green varieties of bamboo.
The rattan or cane is a creeper that grows over the plants and there are about ten species in Sri Lnka including three of a larger diameter and seven of a smaller diameter.
Even though the production of handicrafts by bamboo was being rarely existed as a household handicraft industry in Sri Lanka, products of rattan are being widely used in some parts of the country for a long time. It is important to treat the raw materials before use for the handicraft production to preserve and extend the life term products.
The new technology which can be used to manufacture of household bamboo products are popular the world wide. It has been encouraged the bamboo based industries which generate high income via large scale manufacturing process beyond limited for handicraft production. A very large proportion of the artisan population in SL is involved in these crafts categorically in the village.
Original video credits : Manh Nguyen Van