Ceylon, Ilangai, Lanka, Lakdiva, Seilan, Serendib, Simhaladvipa, Tambapanni, Taprobane-the island's various names suggest that Sri Lanka has clearly meant different things to different people, and external contacts have been central to its history and conceptualization. Expanding and going beyond the standard Sinhala-Buddhist narratives, the essays in this volume look at resident communities and their contesting cultures and claims to the artistic heritages of this island. At times approaching the island from the outside, at other times considering it from the inside, the writers locate the country's identity in a dialectic between national traditions and transnational histories. An extensive introduction places these new essays within the historiography of Sri Lankan art that began with Ananda K. Coomaraswamy. Though there remains much to explore and many new voices to listen to, this volume is a welcome first step in rethinking the art histories of the island.
Sujatha Arundathi Meegama is Assistant Professor at the School of Art, Design, and Media at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.