Following in her father’s footsteps in a bid to conserve Sri Lanka’s wood-carving industry

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By Aanya Wipulasena

Wood-carving is a major component of Sri Lanka’s culture that dates back centuries. Twenty-eight year old Navodhi Karunarathna is following in her father’s footsteps to conserve the island’s wood-carving industry by creating more awareness of it, especially through her academic work. Navodhi is looking at connecting tourism and wood-carving to provide tourists an exclusive view into the island’s culture and heritage.

What made you choose the wood-carving industry? What excites you about it?

I come from a family were the art of Wood-carving is hereditary. Wood-carving is our livelihood. Currently I’m working as a visiting lecturer where I teach Tourism and Hospitality Management subjects at the University of Colombo, SLITHM, Open University, ESOFT, SLIATE and UNIVOTEC, while working as the marketing manager for KARU ARTS wood-carving factory and showroom that is owned by my father. I was excited about this industry since it is popular in both the local and global scenario. Sri Lanka has a rich evolution of wood-carving from the historical era.

How old were you when you realized your passion for this industry?

I’m very familiar with both the industries of wood-carving and tourism since my childhood. Before the Tsunami hit Sri Lanka, we had a little wood-carving shop in Galle. The disaster destroyed everything we had. My father’s shop, his wood carving tools, everything we owned was destroyed by the Tsunami. That was the point when I realized my passion for this industry. I needed to support my father to re-build his wood-carving factory.

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