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Books > Buddhist > SRI LANKA (The Emerald Island)
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SRI LANKA (The Emerald Island)
SRI LANKA (The Emerald Island)
Description

About the Book:

The idyllic and picturesque 'emerald isle' of Sri Lanka has long evoked fascination. This last remnant of a great prehistoric continent now sunk in the deep ocean has drawn visitors to its shores since ancient times. Resplendent visuals shot by the renowned photographer, Devika Gunasena, brilliantly capture the spectacular beauty of this quaint island, its glorious artistic heritage and its distinct form of Buddhism. Tissa Devendra's text complements the work of the photographer, by taking the reader on a voyage through the history of the island, giving pride of place to its vibrant people who are seen as the protagonists of this history.

About the Author:

TISSA DEVENDRA writes with a light and felicitous touch on Sri Lanka's art and culture and on life as an administrator in the provinces where he spent most of his thirty-year career as a senior civil servant and UN official. He is a graduate of the Universities of Ceylon and Cambridge. He now chairs Sri Lanka's national Public Service Commission and lives in Colombo with his wife. This book is written for his son, daughter and grandson.

DEVIKA GUNASENA married Ananda - scion of a major publishing house in Sri Lanka - soon after leaving school. After bringing up their three children, one of whom is now an architect, Devika's latent artistic skills flourished. She became an accomplished sitarist, painter and interior decorator. Five years ago she discovered her real artistic mode of expression - photography. She is now an outstanding photographer whose works show the eye of a true artist in their colour and composition. She has travelled widely in Sri Lanka and India with her camera. This book is Devika's bouquet to her beautiful motherland.

 

Foreword

I do not know how many times I’ve been asked, "Why do you live in Sri Lanka?" This book should save me a good many thousand words of explanation, as it gives an excellent idea of the island’s extraordinary appeal. And it was, incidentally, a long book of photographs—Lionel Wendt’s classic Ceylon—which was my very first introduction to the island years before I actually visited it.

It may well be that each of Sri Lanka’s attractions is surpassed somewhere on Earth; Cambodia may have more impressive ruins, Tahiti lovelier beaches, Bali more beautiful landscapes (though I doubt it), Thailand more charming people (ditto). But I find it hard to believe that there is any country which scores so highly in all departments—which has so many advantages, and so few disadvantages, especially for the Western visitor.

Sri Lanka is also the right size, you can drive from one coast to the other in half a day, over roads which are usually good and often excellent, though sometimes afflicted with unusual hazards, such as elephants without rear-lights. Yet despite the fact that the island is only M0 miles across at its widest, it has two distinct climates. The central mountains (up to 7,000 feet high) trap the monsoon rains alternately on the west and the east; unless you are very unlucky; you can always find good weather somewhere in Sri Lanka. And as the island is only a few degrees north of the Equator, winter never comes, however, I once encountered slight ground frost—at midnight, on Christmas Eve, a mile up on the mountains . . .

With a population of some 18,000,000 and an area of 25,000 square miles (just half the size England), Sri Lanka is not yet too overcrowded and is mercifully spared the appalling poverty and destitution of its giant neighbour. Whether it can continue to avoid India’s problems will depend partly on good luck and on its ability to replace politicians with technicians; like all developing countries, it has too many of the former and not enough of the latter. Not the least of the island’s fascinations is that it provides a small-scale test case of a multiracial society in transition; the result is often an incongruous and delightful mixture of old and new—like starts; the cameras rolling for a movie, or switching on an electronic computer at the auspicious time decreed by the local astrologers.

Though it is probably far too late—for if you have read thus far you may already be doomed—my conscience will not allow me to close without a warning. I came to Sri Lanka; in I956, intending to stay for six months and to write one book about the exploration of the island’s coastal waters. Almost thirty years and eighty books later, I am still here, and hope to remain here for the rest of my life. In The Treasure of the Great Reef I attempted to analyse this situation, and since I do not think I can improve on the words I wrote then, I take the liberty { quoting a couple of paragraphs from that book.

"Though I never left England until I was thirty—three years old (or travelled more than a scare of miles from my birthplace until I was twenty), it is Sri Lanka, not England, that now seems home. I do not pretend to account for this, or for the fact that no other place is wholly real to me. Though London, Washington, New York, Los Angeles, are exciting, amusing, invigorating and hold all the things that interest my mind, they are no longer quite convincing. Their images are blurred around the edges; like a mirage, they will not stand up to detailed inspection. When I am in the Strand, or 42nd Street, or NASA Headquarters, or the Beverly Hills Hotel, surroundings are liable to give a sudden tremor, and I see through the insubstantial fabric to the reality beneath.

“And always it is the same; the slender palm trees leaning over the white sand, the warm sun sparkling on the waves as they break on the inshore reef, the outrigger fishing boats drawn *.1; high on the beach. This alone is real; the rest is but a dream from which I shall presently awake."

 

CONTENTS

Foreword

The Land and its People

Religion and Culture

Colonial Conquests and Independence

Festivals and Celebrations

The Lively Arts

Ancient Murals and Traditional Architecture

Men and Women: A Nation's Destiny

 

SRI LANKA (The Emerald Island)

Item Code:
IDD502
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
1996
ISBN:
81-7437-66-8
Language:
English
Size:
12.2" X 9.4"
Pages:
96
Price:
$35.00   Shipping Free
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About the Book:

The idyllic and picturesque 'emerald isle' of Sri Lanka has long evoked fascination. This last remnant of a great prehistoric continent now sunk in the deep ocean has drawn visitors to its shores since ancient times. Resplendent visuals shot by the renowned photographer, Devika Gunasena, brilliantly capture the spectacular beauty of this quaint island, its glorious artistic heritage and its distinct form of Buddhism. Tissa Devendra's text complements the work of the photographer, by taking the reader on a voyage through the history of the island, giving pride of place to its vibrant people who are seen as the protagonists of this history.

About the Author:

TISSA DEVENDRA writes with a light and felicitous touch on Sri Lanka's art and culture and on life as an administrator in the provinces where he spent most of his thirty-year career as a senior civil servant and UN official. He is a graduate of the Universities of Ceylon and Cambridge. He now chairs Sri Lanka's national Public Service Commission and lives in Colombo with his wife. This book is written for his son, daughter and grandson.

DEVIKA GUNASENA married Ananda - scion of a major publishing house in Sri Lanka - soon after leaving school. After bringing up their three children, one of whom is now an architect, Devika's latent artistic skills flourished. She became an accomplished sitarist, painter and interior decorator. Five years ago she discovered her real artistic mode of expression - photography. She is now an outstanding photographer whose works show the eye of a true artist in their colour and composition. She has travelled widely in Sri Lanka and India with her camera. This book is Devika's bouquet to her beautiful motherland.

 

Foreword

I do not know how many times I’ve been asked, "Why do you live in Sri Lanka?" This book should save me a good many thousand words of explanation, as it gives an excellent idea of the island’s extraordinary appeal. And it was, incidentally, a long book of photographs—Lionel Wendt’s classic Ceylon—which was my very first introduction to the island years before I actually visited it.

It may well be that each of Sri Lanka’s attractions is surpassed somewhere on Earth; Cambodia may have more impressive ruins, Tahiti lovelier beaches, Bali more beautiful landscapes (though I doubt it), Thailand more charming people (ditto). But I find it hard to believe that there is any country which scores so highly in all departments—which has so many advantages, and so few disadvantages, especially for the Western visitor.

Sri Lanka is also the right size, you can drive from one coast to the other in half a day, over roads which are usually good and often excellent, though sometimes afflicted with unusual hazards, such as elephants without rear-lights. Yet despite the fact that the island is only M0 miles across at its widest, it has two distinct climates. The central mountains (up to 7,000 feet high) trap the monsoon rains alternately on the west and the east; unless you are very unlucky; you can always find good weather somewhere in Sri Lanka. And as the island is only a few degrees north of the Equator, winter never comes, however, I once encountered slight ground frost—at midnight, on Christmas Eve, a mile up on the mountains . . .

With a population of some 18,000,000 and an area of 25,000 square miles (just half the size England), Sri Lanka is not yet too overcrowded and is mercifully spared the appalling poverty and destitution of its giant neighbour. Whether it can continue to avoid India’s problems will depend partly on good luck and on its ability to replace politicians with technicians; like all developing countries, it has too many of the former and not enough of the latter. Not the least of the island’s fascinations is that it provides a small-scale test case of a multiracial society in transition; the result is often an incongruous and delightful mixture of old and new—like starts; the cameras rolling for a movie, or switching on an electronic computer at the auspicious time decreed by the local astrologers.

Though it is probably far too late—for if you have read thus far you may already be doomed—my conscience will not allow me to close without a warning. I came to Sri Lanka; in I956, intending to stay for six months and to write one book about the exploration of the island’s coastal waters. Almost thirty years and eighty books later, I am still here, and hope to remain here for the rest of my life. In The Treasure of the Great Reef I attempted to analyse this situation, and since I do not think I can improve on the words I wrote then, I take the liberty { quoting a couple of paragraphs from that book.

"Though I never left England until I was thirty—three years old (or travelled more than a scare of miles from my birthplace until I was twenty), it is Sri Lanka, not England, that now seems home. I do not pretend to account for this, or for the fact that no other place is wholly real to me. Though London, Washington, New York, Los Angeles, are exciting, amusing, invigorating and hold all the things that interest my mind, they are no longer quite convincing. Their images are blurred around the edges; like a mirage, they will not stand up to detailed inspection. When I am in the Strand, or 42nd Street, or NASA Headquarters, or the Beverly Hills Hotel, surroundings are liable to give a sudden tremor, and I see through the insubstantial fabric to the reality beneath.

“And always it is the same; the slender palm trees leaning over the white sand, the warm sun sparkling on the waves as they break on the inshore reef, the outrigger fishing boats drawn *.1; high on the beach. This alone is real; the rest is but a dream from which I shall presently awake."

 

CONTENTS

Foreword

The Land and its People

Religion and Culture

Colonial Conquests and Independence

Festivals and Celebrations

The Lively Arts

Ancient Murals and Traditional Architecture

Men and Women: A Nation's Destiny

 

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