Galle Maritime Museum

Galle Maritime Museum
 
 
 
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We found the Maritime Museum and paid the pound entry.
 
 
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A great picture as we entered.
 
 
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Galle Jetty. Line drawing by Philips Buoldias of Galle Harbour and Jetty in the 17th century.
 
Introduction:  As Sri Lanka is a small island, a close relationship exists between communities living in coastal areas and the sea. Coastal dwellers continuously used the biological resources of the sea to fulfil their daily subsistence needs. They manufactured fishing craft and equipment and fishing became their principle means of livelihood. Despite regional variations, distinct systems of rituals and customs, beliefs and terminology have enabled fishing communities to function as a subculture within Sri Lankan society.
The aim of the Galle Maritime Museum is to collect, conserve and present information, objects and specimens related to the culture of fishing communities in the southern coastal belt and natural resources used by them, for the research, education and entertainment of the public.
 
 
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A model of Galle Harbour 17th – 18th century.
 
 
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A diorama of the famous stilt fishermen: Stilt fishing is a method of fishing unique to the island country of Sri Lanka, known as “the Pearl of the Indian Ocean”. The fishermen sit on a cross bar called a ‘petta’ tied to a vertical pole and driven into the sand a few meters offshore. From this high position, the fishermen casts his line, and waits until a fish comes along to be caught.

 

 

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This diorama shows net fishing from the beach.

 

 

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Fishing equipment.

 

 

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The final diorama shows a lady preparing to cook a fish.

 
 
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A scale model of Dodandoowa yatra or Amudgoa Oruva.
 
There is historical evidence that Sri Lankan ships transported cargo and passengers across the seas to far-away countries. These ships which were a development from the traditional oru style, with an outrigger, were the yatra or maha oru. The Patuwathavithana and Manawadu families were the leading experts in making ships. In 1930 there were forty ships. The last ship of this type, called the “Amugoda Oruva” was wrecked off the Maldive Islands.
This model of the “Amudgoa Oruva” was donated to the Department of National Museums by the Ven. Dodanduva Dhammarathane whose father made the model as a youth. The model is over one hundred years old.
A popular folk poem in the area recounts the wrecking of the “Amugoda Oruva”
 
They got the vessel down to the harbour
It ran several laps in the deep as though in a competition.
Although it ran well under many a sail,
The vessel of Amugoda did not come back home.
 
 
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Traditional Fishing Practices in Sri Lanka: Since ancient times fishing has been a principle means of livelihood of the coastal dwellers of Sri Lanka. Traditional equipment and methods used, made it possible only to catch enough fish for subsistence purposes. The marine fishery in Sri Lanka operated in lagoons and in the sea.
Traditionally, fishermen in Sri Lanka used wood and other materials found in the immediate environment to build their fishing crafts. The fishing boats they constructed were known as oru, vallam, theppum and kattumaram.
The commonest fishing boat in Sri Lanka is the oru or a dugout canoe with an outrigger. The oru is used in a variety of forms, and adopted for very special types of fishing according to the waters (whether in sheltered or in the open sea), and according to the types of nets used.
 
 
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The simplest form of oru are called pila oru. These lie very low in the water and are used where there are no strong waves or strong flow of water. The largest type, the warakan oruwa can sail out into the ocean for twenty miles or so, using easily adjusted sails. All oru are narrow and long, which gives them speed. The outrigger gives them stability. In rough seas or strong winds, the crew members sit on the outrigger to add weight and stability.
 
 
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The wallam is also a type of small canoe. kattumaram and theppum are built by tying planks together with ropes.
 
 
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The kattumaram is a type of fishing boat used to travel in the deep seas.Traditional fishermen used several different types of fishing nets. The seine net (madela) which is used to round up fish, is laid out by tying one end of the net to the shore. The seine net is then loaded onto a paruva and laid out in the sea in an arched shape. It is drawn in by gradually, pulling the two ends of the net together. A large number of people participate in this activity. By laying the seine net not only large fish but smaller fish can also be caught.
 
 
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The circular throwing net (veesi dela) is utilised in lagoon fishing. Lagoon fishermen did not mormally go out to sea but engaged in catching lobsters, prawns and crabs by using fish traps.
 
 
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Customs and Ritual Practices of Fishermen: As deep sea fishing is often dangerous, fishermen engaged in many customs and rituals to safeguard their lives.
The leader of the fishing crew is known as the marakkalahe. The term may be varied according to the area. He plays an important role in preparing auspicious times to go out to sea and setting up fishing camps and is also responsible for the customs that should be followed before leaving.
Fishermen in the southern province annually hold an almsgiving for the deities and demons who rule the sea. Of special note are the offerings made to the Kalu Vedi Devatha every year. Five types of meats and five types of flowers are placed as offerings and incense is held around the boat. Other rituals include cutting limes on the boat, the net and the sea and the performance of gammadu, polptit, gara yakuma and rituals associated with jetties and fisheries harbours. Southern fishermen get exorcisms performed on a boat or an oruve thovilaya in the hope of protecting the boat, the sail and the lives of the fishermen. 
Buddhist fishermen conduct the ritual of boiling milk and make special offerings which include bananas and oil cakes and pray for protection and a plentiful catch. Catholic fishermen pray to Jesus Christ, St Anthony and St Peter. Hindu fishermen make offerings to the gods at Konesvatam and Munnesvaram temples.
The use of amulets and chanting spells can also be seen among fishing communities. A common custom among fishermen is to make offerings to the demons and deities who protect meat, jetties and the sea. Older fishermen perform ‘light reading’ through the ‘Kalu Vedi anduna’ to predict the areas in which fish are plentiful. Fishermen also use yanthra to catch fish and keep them within the net. They have also inherited traditional secret spells to take revenge on their enemies by making their nets burst.
 
 
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The other displays featured creatures and information on a tsunami (own blog).
 
 
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Shells.
 
 
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Mangroves and where they are situated around the coast of Sri Lanka.
 
 
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Sea Shore Plants: The plant community that grows in the sandy soil of high salinity level along the sea shore is included in this group of plants.
Plants with prostrate stems that are capable of withstanding high winds are common in the intertidal area. Such species like Spinifex, Phylla and Ipomoea have succulent leaves with thick cuticles as an adaptation to reduce transpiration.
Small bushes are seen at the edge of the seashore. The scrubland with littoral vegetation starts next with short tree species like Pandanas. Thespasia and Calotopis.
 
 
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Vivipe Rous germination. Sea shore plants play an important role in reducing coastal erosion by stabilising the movement of sand.
 
 
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A lovely little museum, especially good to learn more about the fishermen.
 
 
 
ALL IN ALL FASCINATED BY ORU AND RITUALS
                     SMALL BUT VERY INTERESTING