Our History

History of traditional kandyan Costumes

During the reign of King Wimaladharmasuriya (1591-1604 B.C.) the normal dress of a King was shirt and long sleeved jacket and on it a manthaya round the neck and a Sinhalese style decorated turban or a Malabar style pair of trousers made of thin material. It is said that he also wore a four-cornered hat with a high borala. It was also the custom of the nobles to wear a sword in a sheath. Nobody was allowed to wear stockings and shoes which was a part of the royal costume.

Especially Kings wore royal ornaments and jewellery on important occasions. The intention was to be seen noticeable among the people and to be revered as a God by the people. However after the arrival of the Portuguese there had been clear difference of the costumes of the royals and nobles.

It shows however that the Sinhalese Kings made changes in their costumes influenced by the Portuguese dresses. Even the words used by Portuguese for their dresses were added to Sinhala dresses.

It showed some changes and new additions were attached to costumes of chieftains towards the end of this era. To the dress the kings wore to cover the bottom part was a three core trouser with pleats. These people who wore trousers must have been influenced by Kings costumes for their creations. The costumes of up country chieftains differed slightly from one another. The dress, the Nilames used in the earlier period started its use during the English period as well. A long trouser for the bottom part of the body, a belt, a turban, necklaces, a manthe, jeweled rings, bangles with carvings, gold chains and a designed hat were parts of the original dress.