Dumbara Rata Kalala or Dumbara mats are traditional handwoven Sri Lankan mats. These mats are called “Dumbara Rata Kalala” as they originated in the Dumbara Valley in the central area of Sri Lanka. A group of traditional weavers in the Kalasirigama in Kandy and Alokagama in Matale districts in Sri Lanka’s central region, located in the Dumbara Valley, weave Dumbara Rata Kalala. The Dumbara Rata Kalala weavers hail from the same families that provided decorative mats to Sri Lankan kings and their royal palaces. Dumbara Rata Kalala is woven by a unique class of people named Kinnara. Both men and women do weaving in their own homes as a family occupation.
The majority of the designs of these Dumbara Rata Kalala have come from the Buddhist and Hindu mythology of Sri Lankan culture. For Sri Lankans, dumbara mats are a traditional item with significant cultural value. The Dumba Rata Kalala is acknowledged by UNESCO and included on their Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. UNESCO released this information on December 15, 2021.
The fibres from the leaves of the Hana plant (Agave vera) are the primary material used by the weavers in Dumbara Rata Kalala. These mats are also coloured using various organic natural colours made from ingredients available in the Dumbara Valley.
Dumbara Mats Weave
Firstly, the fibres in the leaves of the Hana plant will separate by hand. Then these fibres will be washed and kept out in the sun to dry. Different colours will add to the dry fibres as the last stage of preparation of the fibres.
A lath, a flat, narrow piece of wood with a hole at one end, is used to add patterns and decorations after the mat is weaved on a loom. To produce the desired design, the weaver places fibre strings into the hole and pulls the lath through the threads on the loom.
These Dumbara Rata Kalala will be woven on the floor by weavers.