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Arts and Craft
Maldivians who lived before us were the masters of stone carvings. If you visit some of the
older cemeteries and mosques you would be amazed by the craftsmanship of the early
Maldivians when you see the beautifully carved tombstones with such great care and
expertise. Even each of the little stones of the walls of the old Mosques had been carved
excellently. Inside the mosques you will find verses from the Holy Quran carved in such
beauty that one will think modern tools had been used to produce masterpieces such as
If you happen to visit the Capital of Maldives (Male’), don’t leave the Island before you’ve seen
HUKURU MISKIIY, which means Friday Mosques and is one of the oldest mosques in the
Wooden Lacquer Ware
At present the creation of beautifully crafted boxes containers and ornamental objects by
hollowing and shaping out pieces of wood remains the most distinctive of the Maldives
handicrafts. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes; small pillboxes, vases of various
sizes to round and oval plates with lids. These are made from the local funa, (Alexandrian
laurel) which grows lavishly throughout the country. These graceful pieces are lacquered
in strands of red, black and yellow resin and carefully carved with graceful flowery
patterns. This entire process has a Dhivehi name for it “Laajehun”.
Mats were once woven all through the country. The art is now disappearing fast. Some
Maldives Islands have taken the liberty to revive the art to pass on to the coming
generations. Once such island in the Maldives is Gadh-dhoo ( in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll).
“Thudu Kunaa” as they are known as in Dhivehi (the local Maldives Language) is woven
by the women of the island. Thudu Kunaas range in size from that of a Place Mat to a full
size Single Mattress.
The women of Gadhdhoo gather the reeds called haa from the close by island of Fioari.
They are dried in the sun and discolored with natural dyes, the colour varying from fawn to
black. These mats with their intricate designs are woven on a handloom according to the
imagination and skill of the weaver.
Dhonis as we call it is built without a blueprint of how the end product is going to be even
at this age. The design of the boat is a suspense until the boat is built completely. In the
olden days coconut wood was used to make the hull of the dhoni. However hardwood
which has to be imported has replaced the coconut wood.
Copper rivets are used to grip the planks together. The square sail made of coconut
fronds gave way to a triangular lateen sail. Even though this is still considered essential
and is carried on board, it is used only during emergencies or to ease the strain of the
engines. Almost all Dhonis are driven by diesel power.
Dhonis are used for fishing, ferrying and transport of goods from one Island to the other
and varies in shape and design depending on how it would be executed for.
Introduction of the Maldives - Arts and Craft
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