Martial arts evolved all around the world throughout history for thousands of years. Combat techniques and strategies arose as an organic need for self-preservation and self-defense. In this manner, martial arts evolved through a complex combination of geographical factors, cultural beliefs, cultural interaction, and human instinct.
A few martial arts have been elevated to global popularity. Fighting styles such as Karate, Kung-Fu, Judo, Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Capoeira, and Krav Maga have captured the world’s attention and opened windows for the world to discover the cultures they were borne from.
For thousands of years, Sri Lanka too has had a sophisticated martial art of its own. Coveted by many outsiders, the island nation has had a compelling need to develop an impenetrable system of defense. The fact that Sri Lanka has maintained its sovereignty, language, religious beliefs, and unique cultural practices for thousands of years is a testament to the sophisticated defense system that was developed within the island and helped keep this knowledge intact.
Angampora, the ancient martial art of Sri Lanka was not merely an art of combat. It is a refined philosophy that embraces the forces of nature and cosmic energies, and has done so for thousands of years. Deeply imbued in Buddhism and spirituality, the foundation of the art stands on the three pillars of protecting the land, its people, and developing a “complete” human being. Besides unarmed and armed combat, he art’s core facets include meditation, medicine, and secret rituals that embrace mystical and supernatural forces unknown to the modern world. The art was practiced by Kings, nobility, and citizens of Sri Lanka for centuries, but its golden era has sadly passed, and it is at a critical juncture in its history.
Three centuries of colonialism dealt a severe blow to the longevity of Angampora. With the takeover of the country in 1815 by the British, Angampora was deemed outdated and unnecessary for the needs of the state on October 5, 1818. The British actively destroyed Angam Maduwas and killed teachers, practitioners, and students en masse. And practitioners receded into secrecy to protect the art, turning into them into elusive figures and urban myths.
During this period of darkness, much of the art’s deep repositories of knowledge were taken away or erased by the British. Thousands of ola-leaf manuscripts containing age-old knowledge of a wide range of subject matter, ancient artifacts and relics, and entire collections of valuable cultural treasures were taken away or destroyed by colonial forces, effectively erasing a core aspect of Sri Lankan cultural identity over the course of a few decades.
After the 30 years of civil war in Sri Lanka, Angampora practitioners have emerged into the open again. 2 centuries of secrecy has left the art at a very vulnerable place. A few families and a handful of practitioners remain, and this invaluable Sri Lankan art is on the verge of extinction.
It is in this context that Angampora: A Nation’s Legacy in Pictures becomes a pioneering initiative. For the first time in Sri Lanka (and the world), the hidden story of this exotic art will be revealed in a stunning photographic narrative that will take readers through a cultural treasure that has remained untouched for centuries.
Executed by Oceans and Continents Partners, a Colombo based creative partnership, Angampora: A Nation’s Legacy in Pictures will be presented as a 250 page hardcover book with more than 250+ original photographs never seen before. The book is written by Deshamanya Dr. Ajantha Mahanthaarachchi, the heir of the Korathota Arachchi lineage, one of Sri Lanka’s oldest traditonal Angampora lineages whose history precedes the reign of King Seethawaka Rajasinghe. Photographer Reza Akram’s prior work on Angampora has received international attention and he has captured hundreds of more amazing photographs for Angampora: A Nation’s Legacy in Pictures. The book will be released early October of 2015.
Five months in the making, Angampora: A Nation’s Legacy in Pictures will include photographs of never before seen artifacts from all around Sri Lanka, breathtaking action photographs, and thought provoking images of secret rituals and esoteric practices that the world has yet to witness. The project team intends to make the book as a stepping-stone to help raise greater awareness of Angampora in Sri Lanka and abroad in a bid to help it going into further decline.
The team has gone to great lengths to accomplish this vision, and a crowdfunding campaign is now online at crimso.com; welcoming like minded enthusiasts around the world to help support this groundbreaking initiative. The team has also joined hands with Q&E Advertising, who will direct the design and layout of Angampora: A Nation’s Legacy in Pictures. You can contact the team to reserve your book today for a special price of Rs. 7,000. Those who purchase pre-sale copies will also have their names mentioned in a Limited Edition Angampora: A Nation’s Legacy in Pictures book.
You can follow the project on facebook: facebook.com/project.angampora
Or you contact the Project Angampora Team to reserve your copies of the book and for further inquiries.
Yasas Ratnayake 0770636719
Reza Akram 0773506523
Dewmith Ekanayake 0714320575
Nuwan Attanayake 0777778889