Folklore in Fashion

Folklore can be defined as an expressive body of culture often intertwined with creative practice. It has been playing a significant role throughout history in defining emotions and characteristics of people. Indigenous as well as different ethnicities and their religious, and cultural beliefs encompass the transmission of the artefacts of folklore from one region to another or from one generation to the next. Therefore, it is entangled with myths, ethnography, history, linguistics and literature. Plenty of different folklore have been existing around Sri Lanka as a country with social and cultural divergence. A deeper analysis of folklore may be helpful to explore the historical significance of material culture within a civilisation.

This study of folklore is chiefly driven by the story of Kuweni- a mind provoking narrative that signifies the intangible cultural heritage: ancient social structure, cultural values, indigenous communities, and their code of beliefs of Sri Lanka. There are different mythical characteristics intertwined with “Kuweni” as a female ruler in folklore. As it unfolds, the evolution of Kuweni’s character from an individual woman to a lover, wife, mother and a single parent who finally gets murdered by her own tribe is an intriguing narrative of cultural significance. Kuweni can also be identified as the main inducement behind the victory of Aryan Prince Vijaya who conquered the country, and Kuweni betrayed her own tribe to enthrone the prince.

A greater insight into this folklore signifies the ancient clothing practices, tools, techniques and processes of draping, textile and apparel manufacturing that was inherited in the society by then. The specific outcome of this study will lead to recreation of emotional values of folklore of Kuweni through fashion products to encourage youngsters to reconnect with their ancestral roots. Team headed by Dr Gopura, Dr Wickramasinghe, and Associate Professor Payne together with their Research Student Shashiprabha Thilakarathne is conducting this study.

Chief Investigators