Wooden architecture and wood-carving are inextricably linked in the traditional wooden architecture of Sri Lanka, especially in Kandy, the central province of the country. The allied skills simultaneously highlight the construction and carving skills of master-craftsmen and architects; Kandyan wooden architecture is extremely rich in detailing, show-casing a range of wood-carving, much of which represents a remarkable combination of creativity and skill in manipulating the material.
The abundance of several varieties of timber was instrumental in the prolific presence of wooden architecture. Owing to its durability and hardness, timber was used to make several structural components like beams and massive pillars, as also elaborately designed doors and windows. The traditional craft of wood-carving was practised by several highly esteemed crfatsmen and master-craftsmen, who trained apprentices in the principles of the craft.
Mastering the skill of wood-carving often precedes initiation into carving on ivory, an extremely delicate and esteemed craft. There is a strong link between the two crafts: once an artisan carving on wood has graduated to ivory-carving he is believed to have reached the pinnacle of his craft. The descendants of master ivory carvers of yore carve in wood when ivory is not available.
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