Creating replicas of the beloved ancient landmarks, statues and art in cement, fiberglass, terra cotta, brass, bronze, ceramic, wood and stone to match its original is the responsibility of a selected group of artists at the Antiquities Replica Centre at Bataleeya, Pasyala.
May it be a row of elephants, a scene of deva-aradhana from the Polonnaruwa era, or a Buddha statue from the Anuradhapura era; the artists at the Antiquities Replica Centre fondly known as ARC have produced a replica closest to the original thus preventing looting and destruction of artifacts by mercenaries and tourists looking for a souvenir.
Producing artifacts for sale is not the only assignment of the ARC. Reproductions of large scale historic monuments to grace national and international exhibitions and events had brought the centre an instant fame in local and international arena.
The fiber glass replica of famed Isurumuniya Lovers, standing Buddha statue by the Ruwanveliseya, Polonnaruwa’s medicinal trough (beheth oruwa), the Lotus Pillar at the Nissankamalla Mandapaya, the Yapahuwa Lion and the Sacred Footprint of the Buddha displayed at the National Museum in Colombo were some of ARC’S famed creation exhibited in Japan last year at the Sri Lanka-Japan heritage show.
ARC’S first major break came when the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka assigned the center with the creation of a huge 9’ Olympic lamp in fiber-glass for the South Asian Games held in Colombo in 2006. The challenge paid off and now the lamp prized fixture at the Sugathadasa Stadium.
Another complicated but stunning creation of ARC is the six feet ath pahana or elephant lamps for NERD. Known as gedi pahan, it was an ancient engineering feat of minute detail made with 1250 pieces. The oil is filled into the stomach of the elephant and drips through its navel to the lamp.
Feats of this caliber certainly demands special training and the training is provided at the academic Unit of the ARC.
A selected few are trained in Art, engraving and sculptor with an emphasis on replica production while retaining the original grace, form and quality. The students are encouraged to retain replica production as a income generating source and a priority is given to the youth of old artesian families in the country. The cream de la cream of the training programme is retained by ARC, whose creations could be purchased at the ARC and other sales outlets scattered around the country.