Lot 143
Reena Saini Kallat


The work is comprised of a wood box that the artist has worked on and this box contains 12 watercolor works on paper of 2 different sizes. The paintings are to be removed from the box and displayed directly on the wall. The wooden box has metal filigree detailed corners and a central oval painted area. The works will be shipped in the box and will be unframed. The work also come with a brief write up by the artist.


The name Sri Lanka comprises the honorific Sri, or 'venerable', and the island's proper name, Lanka. It is sometimes translated poetically as 'resplendent isle'. The Republic of Sri Lanka, previously the Dominion of Ceylon, attained republican status within the Commonwealth of Nations on 22 May 1972. The state arms, which are not in the heraldic tradition, reflect to an even greater extent than the arms of the Dominion of Ceylon the Buddhist traditions of the Sinhala-speaking people. The device of Sri Lanka incorporates the lion holding a sword, on a red roundel, within a circlet of lotus petals, from the 1954 arms of Ceylon. Around the flower is a wreath of rice which sprouts from a pot on which the roundels rest. On either side of the pot are representations of the moon and the sun (drawn with faces), Buddhist symbols of longevity that are also found in the flag of Nepal. Completing the design at the top, in place of the Kandyan crown that appeared in the Dominion arms, is a dharmachakra, or wheel of fate, also an important Buddhist symbol. The lion holding a sword (here called the Ceylon lion) appeared on the banner of the last king of Kandy (the last independent native state on the island). The banner was taken to Britain as war booty in 1815 and returned in 1948, following the creation of the independent Dominion of Ceylon on 4 February that year. (The island had been a British Crown Colony since 1802.) The banner's design was initially used as the country's flag, but three years later stripes of green and orange were added in the hoist of the flag, to represent the island's Muslim and Hindu minorities.


(The images discussed below are derived from a manuscript dating from 1717/1720. Literature: Silva, de and Beumer, Illustrations and views of Dutch Ceylon 1602-1796, 1988)

The arms show the very typical Palmyra palm, an important tree for the local economy at the time. A Tamil poem describes the 801 uses of the tree... The helmet was used by the city of Jaffna and indicates that these cities were of high importance to the colony (after Colombo).

The arms show three cobs of Indian corn, typical for the agriculture in the district.

The arms show a single Dutch merchant ship.

The arms show a clay pitcher for storing water. It was customary to sink these empty pitchers in the sand overnight. The brackish water filtered through the clay and filled the pitchers with purified water. Thus pottery was an important handicraft in the region.

The arms show a type of mango tree, as a canting symbol, the name was supposedly derived from Kol-amba, the name of the tree in Sinhalese. To the tree a small pigeon was added as a Christian canting symbol (from the Latin columba or pigeon).

The arms show a lascarin soldier. These soldiers were imported in large numbers by the Dutch from Java and Malaya. The soldier probably symbolises the large number of soldiers in the two large Dutch fortresses in the town.

The arms are double canting, showing a rock (gala in Sinhalese) and a rooster (gallus in Latin). The helmet was also used by the city of Jaffna and indicates that these cities were of high importance to the colony (after Colombo).

The arms show a bridge over the Nilwala ganga and a Martello tower. Why these symbols were chosen is not known, as neither of these was present in the town....

The arms show two Dutch merchant ships

The arms show a wild date palm

Read More
Artist Profile
Other works of this artist in: this auction  |  entire site

  Lot 143 of 145  

10-12 MAY 2005


Winning Bid
Rs 2,36,973

(Inclusive of Buyer's Premium)


Reena Saini Kallat

Mixed media on board
0 x 0 in (0 x 0 cm)

Category: Relief Sculpture
Style: Figurative


Need help? Please check our guides on How to Bid. Auction Tips and FAQs.
Email [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
Tel: +91 22 6855 4100 (Mumbai); +1 212 627 5006 (USA); +44(0) 20 7409 7974(UK); +91 95555 84229 (New Delhi)