The Maldives, a picturesque country located in the Indian Ocean, is well known for its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and luxury resorts. However, the country has a rich cultural heritage that is often overlooked by tourists. The Maldives has a unique art and craft scene that reflects the country’s history, traditions, and environment. In this article, we will explore the local arts, crafts, and handicrafts of Maldives.
The Maldives has a long history of producing exquisite handicrafts. The country’s remote location, isolation, and dependence on the sea have shaped its crafts, which are characterized by intricate designs and vibrant colors. The most popular handicrafts of Maldives include mat weaving, coir rope making, lacquer work, and wooden carvings.
The making of dhoani, or traditional Maldivian boats, is one of the most recognizable handicrafts of Maldives. For ages, Maldivians have utilized these boats for fishing, transportation, and trading. The construction of a dhoani is a laborious procedure requiring a great deal of talent and patience. To begin, the boat’s frame is made of locally produced wood. The planks are then meticulously moulded and fitted together using conventional methods. Lastly, the boat is decorated with complex carvings and brightly colored paint. Dhoanis are still in use across the Maldives today, and they serve as a reminder of the country’s rich marine heritage. These boats are an important aspect of Maldives life because they are used for fishing, transportation, and even ambulances. Dhonis are often built of coconut wood, which is both durable and saltwater resistant.
Mat weaving is another Maldivian traditional trade that has been practiced for ages. The leaves of the screwpine tree, which grows across the Maldives, are used to make mats. Before being woven into elaborate designs, the leaves are peeled and dried. Thun’du kunaa is a traditional craft in the Maldives that involves the art of weaving. The craft is done using dried coconut leaves that are split into thin strips and then woven into intricate patterns. Thun’du kunaa is used to make a range of products such as baskets, mats, and even traditional Maldivian roofs. The craft is a vital part of the Maldivian culture and has been practiced for centuries. The mats are used for a number of purposes, including sleeping mats, prayer mats, and house and resort decorating.
Wooden Lacquer Ware
Hardwood lacquer ware is a beautiful art that originated in Asia and was introduced to the Maldives by traders from China and India. The craft is coating wooden objects with layers of lacquer to achieve a smooth, shiny finish. Making lacquer ware entails multiple procedures, including carving the wooden piece, adding the lacquer, and polishing it to a high gloss.
In the Maldives, wooden lacquer ware is frequently used to produce elaborate boxes, trays, and other decorative objects. The patterns are often inspired by the natural beauty of the Maldives, with depictions of fish, sea turtles, and other marine life.
Coir rope making
Coir rope making is one of the oldest handicrafts of Maldives and is still widely practiced today. The craft involves the process of extracting the fibers from the coconut husk, which are then twisted and spun into strong and durable ropes. These ropes are used for a variety of purposes, such as tying boats and nets, making furniture, and even for construction. The art of coir rope making requires skill and patience, and it is often passed down from one generation to another.
Feyli viyun is another one of the unique and intricate handicrafts of Maldives that involves the art of carving intricate designs onto wooden boards. The craft is done using a special knife called “Feyli,” which is used to carve the designs onto the wood. The designs are typically inspired by nature and depict local flora and fauna, such as palm trees, fish, and sea creatures. Feyli viyun is often used to make traditional Maldivian souvenirs and decorative items.
Basketry is one of the traditional handicrafts of Maldives that has been practiced for millennia in the country. The fibers from the coconut palm tree are used by local artists to make elaborate and elegant baskets, mats, and other products. In the Maldives, basket weaving begins with gathering coconut leaves and drying them in the sun. After drying, the dried leaves are cut into strips and weaved into various shapes and sizes.
The Kunaafolhi, a form of traditional mat, is one of the most popular types of basketry in the Maldives. These mats are generally embellished with vivid patterns and designs and are commonly used for sleeping and sitting. Baskets, bags, and caps are some popular goods made from coconut palm fibers.
Another ancient skill practiced in the Maldives is stone cutting. Local artisans carve and sculpt exquisite carvings and sculptures out of coral stone, which is abundant in the area. This skill was passed down through generations and is still practiced now.
The Hukuru Miskiy mosque, erected in the 17th century, is one of the most well-known instances of stone carving in the Maldives.
Blacksmithing is another traditional trade that has been done in the Maldives for millennia. Local blacksmiths use traditional techniques to make a variety of tools and weapons, including as knives, swords, and axes. In the Maldives, blacksmithing entails heating metal in a furnace and shaping it with a hammer and anvil.
The Dhivehi Faiy, a sort of sword, is one of the most famous Maldives blacksmith-made weapons. These swords are distinguished by their characteristic curved blades and were originally used in battle by warriors. Blacksmiths in the Maldives still make traditional tools and weapons, as well as decorative items like jewellery and sculptures.
Engraving is another popular art form in the Maldives. These handicrafts of Maldives involve carving intricate designs into various materials, such as wood, ivory, and coral. In the Maldives, engraving has been used to create decorative items, such as jewelry boxes, picture frames, and even the handles of traditional knives. The most famous engraving technique in the Maldives is known as filigree work. This technique involves creating intricate designs by twisting and curling thin strips of silver or gold wire. Filigree work is often used to create jewelry, such as earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, and it is a testament to the Maldives’ skilled metalworkers.