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A gem of a Monument

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Ratnapura National Museum housed in the historical Ehelepola Walauwa is being renovated and conserved, the first ever exercise of its kind since its establishment. The archaeologically important monument which was closed for a few years is soon to be reopened to the public.

Story and Pix by Randima Attygalle

Nestled in a sprawling green garden of nearly eight acres is a ‘gem of a different kind’ in Ratnapura- the land of gems and the domain of God Saman. An oasis in the midst of the busy Ratnapura town, a drive canopied by its ‘forest garden’ brings a visitor to the stately mansion. The legend has it that once there was a secret tunnel to access this building, its entry point no longer to be found. Its impressive lobby replete with an elaborate wooden doorway, a high ceiling and thick brick walls reflect Dutch and British architectural influence. A dolawa (palanquin) and a wooden oruwa, both several centuries old, are exhibited here today.

Originally built between 1811 and 1814 for the occupation of Ehelepola Maha Adikaram when he was serving as the Disawe of Sabaragamuwa, the building known as Ehelepola Walauwa, was later used as the official residence of the government agents of the Sabaragamuwa Province during the British administration, earning the common reference of Disapathi Medura. Its spacious rooms with high ceilings enabling natural ventilation today serve as the seven galleries of the National Museum of Ratnapura dedicated to the historical and cultural heritage of the Sabaragamuwa Province.

The history of the Ratnapura National Museum goes back to 1946. ‘The exhibition of the first set of museum objects took place in April, 1946. These were brought from the Colombo National Museum, particularly for their safety from any possible danger in Colombo during the Second World War,” says the Director, Cultural, Department of National Museums, Senarath Wickramasinghe. The museum objects were initially exhibited in a private residence in Weralupe, close to the Ratnapura town. In 1957 it was shifted to a building near the old CTB Depot in the town. The museum was opened to the public on May 18, 1988 in the present Ehelepola Walauwa, after the premises were acquired by the Department of National Museums. It was officially declared as an archaeological monument on September 3, 1993 under a special gazette notification by the Department of Archaeology.

The seven galleries of the museum are dedicated to the gems, rocks and minerals of Ratanpura, extinct fauna of Ratnapura, pre-history of the region, History of Ratnapura, textiles, ceramics and jewellery, Sabaragamuwa dance form and rituals and traditional industries and customs of Ratnapura respectively. Among the special objects on display are the sword of Ehelepola Adikaram and the four-poster bed used by Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maithriya Thera.

Besides the objects of antiquity are newly done models reflecting Ratnapura’s well known gem mining, Balangoda man from the pre-history and Sabaragamuwa dance. Modern lighting systems in place enhance the finer intricacies of the objects on display. The gallery, ‘Extinct Fauna of Ratnapura’ features bones of some of the animals which lived in the Quaternary Period (the period between 2 to 500 million years before present) unearthed from gem pits in the area and replicas of some of these animals are found in the Paleo Biodiversity Museum Park- the first of its kind in the country, Wickramasinghe explains.

“Certain fossilized parts of large mammals which lived in the Quaternary Period have been found in the Ratnapura District among the layers of deposits in the areas such as Getahetta, Eheliyagoda, Kuruwita, Kalawana, Pelmadulla, and Kahawatta. These deposits are referred to as ‘Ratnapura deposits’ which belonged to the latter stages of the geological history; Pleistocene and Holocene (two million years before present) periods, found in wet soil layers of gem mines,” he said.

The fossils of the extinct species of animals in the Ratnapura District were first studied by the late Director of the Colombo National Museum, Dr. P. E. P. Deraniyagala. His research had confirmed that three species of elephants, two species of unicorns, one species of hippopotamus, buffalo, hunting dog, lion and wild pig had inhabited this region. The replicas which are exhibited in the Ratnapura Museum are based on the fossil data obtained from such studies.

It has also been recorded that Ratnapura district claims evidence representing all ages of prehistory in Sri Lanka. It is presumed that the stone tools that have been unearthed from wet layers of ‘Ratnapura mines’ represent lower and middle stages of the pre-history and also presumed that those tools belong to the period between 250,000 – 125,0000 years from today. The oldest skeletons of Homo sapiens who lived in South Asia have been found in Fa Hien Caves (Pahiyangala Caves) in Bulathsinhala and Batadombalena in Kuruwita. “These findings take us back to a definite time frame of 40,000 years from today and the findings of Batadombalena takes us back to 35,000 years, offering us clear evidence that prehistoric men continuously lived in these places up to 3500 BC,” points out Wickramasinghe. The excavations conducted in Bellanbendipelassa, an open space in the Ratnapura District located in the Walawe Valley had uncovered a burial ground of pre-historic men. The Pre-History Gallery of the Museum visually presents these findings.

An assortment of kitchen and agricultural objects of antiquity, exquisite jewellery worn by the Ratnapura aristocracy, ancient Buddha statues from temples, old coins, ceramics, garments and swords add to the grandeur of the museum. The Medicinal Garden, Bamboo Garden and Endemic Plant Garden surrounding it afford a tranquil setting to the stately building housing the museum meriting promotion among local and foreign visitors.

The first ever ‘conservation-renovation’ exercise since the establishment of the Ratnapura National Museum was a demanding task resulting in closure for several years during which the work was completed, remarks the Director General of the Department of National Museums, Sanuja Kasthuriarachchi. “In the process, while being conscious of the original architectural features of this archaeological site, we also had to do justice to Ehelepola Maha Adikaram who occupied this mansion as well as the historical and cultural heritage of Ratnapura,.” she explains. “The conservation project also aspires to be aligned with the proposed five-year Gem City Master Plan of the Urban Development Authority..”

“Here, we will be taking measures to conserve and develop the Bio Diversity Park of the museum as well, so that the premises can be promoted as a sustainable tourist attraction under the Master Plan,” she added.

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Ehelepola Maha Adikaram

He was born to a noble family from the village of Ehelepola, nine miles from Matale and was educated by the Yatawatte Maha Thera before joining the Royal court. His first appointment was to the post of Paniwidakara Nilame by the King and later succeeded Meegastenne Adikarama as the Second Adikaram. Ehelepola was also appointed as Disave of Sabaragamuva which was held by Meegastenne. Following the death of Pilimatlawe Nilame, Ehelepola was appointed as the Maha Adikaram in 1811 under the reign King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha.

Following the brutal execution of his entire family by the King, (including his eldest son, the child hero Madduma Bandara), he aided the British in launching an invasion of the Kandyan Kingdom. Ehelepola became part of the British administration of Kandy but soon came under suspicion during the Great Rebellion of 1817–18.  The royal courtier was arrested by the British and exiled to Mauritius Island along with several Kandyan Chiefs in 1825. He died on April 4, 1829 in Mauritius Island. His tomb, which is a protected Monument, bears the inscription: ‘Sacred to the memory of Ehelepola Wijesundara Wickramasinghe Chandrasekara Amarakoon Wahala Mudianse, late First Adigar or Prime Minister to the King of Kandy, who died on 4th April 1829 aged 57 years”.



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My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment says Beyonce

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Beyonce, shown attending the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, is slated to release a new album in July 2022

Beyonce’s soaring vocals have their place on “Renaissance” but it’s the rhythmic, urgent call to the dance floor that stands out, with a tapestry of influences paying homage to pioneers of funk, soul, r Six years after she shook the culture with her powerful visual album “Lemonade,” Beyonce’s seventh solo studio work is a pulsating, sweaty collection of club tracks aimed at liberating a world consumed by ennui.

Beyonce, the paradigm-shifting music royal whose art has long established her as one of entertainment’s seminal stars, released her hotly anticipated album “Renaissance,” a house-tinged dance record primed for its summer needle drop

Eminently danceable and rife with nods to disco and EDM history — Queen Bey interpolates Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder along with James Brown and the archetypal synth line from “Show Me Love,” the 1990s house smash by Robin S — the 16-song album is poised to reign over the season.

Prior to releasing her opus Beyonce had dropped “Break My Soul” to acclaim, setting the tone for her house revival that highlighted the Black, queer and working-class artists and communities who molded the electronic dance genre, which first developed in Chicago in the 1980s.The megastar has indicated that “Renaissance” is but the first act of three, in a project she said she recorded over the course of three years during the pandemic.

“Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world,” Beyonce on her website.

“It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving,” she continued. “My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking.”

“A place to scream, release, feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration.”

– ‘Expansive listening journey’ –

In the weeks preceding the release of “Renaissance” Beyonce teased the album with the steady stream of glossy, curated portraits of herself that over the past decade have become her signature.But though she’s received wide praise for keeping the world of music videos on the cutting edge, Beyonce put out her latest record sans visuals (they’re promised at a later date.)

In a statement her label Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records lent insight into the decision, saying the artist “decided to lead without visuals giving fans the opportunity to be limitless in their expansive listening journey.”

Beyonce’s soaring vocals have their place on “Renaissance” but it’s the rhythmic, urgent call to the dance floor that stands out, with a tapestry of influences paying homage to pioneers of funk, soul, rap, house and disco.

“Unique / That’s what you are /Stilettos kicking vintage crystal off the bar,” she sings on “Alien Superstar,” which samples Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” in a sonic ode to voguing, the stylized house dance that emerged from the Black LGBTQ ballroom culture of the 1960s.

That song closes by sampling a speech from Barbara Ann Teer, who founded Harlem’s National Black Theatre.

On “Virgo’s Groove” Beyonce gets raunchy with an unabashed sex anthem, adding a titular nod to her star sign — the Virgo turns 41 on September 4.Along with a smattering of deep house cuts as well as tributes to gospel, funk and soul, Beyonce’s collaborators on “Renaissance” include Nile Rodgers, Skrillex, Nigerian singer Tems, Grace Jones, Pharrell and, of course, her rap mogul husband Jay-Z.

– Album leaks, Beyhive stings –

Beyonce has long bucked music’s conventional wisdom, and is credited with popularizing the surprise album drop.She later made waves by releasing “Lemonade” — the groundbreaking work that chronicled her own emotional catharsis following infidelity within a generational and racial context — first on cable television, and limiting its streaming availability.

Since “Lemonade” she’s released “Homecoming,” a live album and film featuring footage from her mythic 2018 Coachella performance, as well as the critically acclaimed song “Black Parade” — which dropped amid mass protests ignited by the police murder of George Floyd.

That song saw the megastar, who first gained fame as a member of Destiny’s Child, become the winningest woman ever at the Grammys with 28, and the gala’s most decorated singer.But for all her cultural clout and an indisputable throne in music’s pantheon, Beyonce’s songs have not seen the same commercial dominance as other contemporary global stars — her last number one solo hit was 2008’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”

That’s poised to change with “Renaissance.”

The album’s release saw Queen Bey return to music business as usual, deploying pre-sales, a lead single drop, a tracklist and polished social media fodder.But it wasn’t without a hitch — in the days prior to the official release, the album leaked online.

Bey thanked her hive for waiting, and added that “I appreciate you for calling out anyone that was trying to sneak into the club early.”

“We are going to take our time and Enjoy the music,” the megastar told her fandom. “I love you deep.”–AFP

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Choosing high fashion brands is your best bet

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Women all over the world love branded clothing. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest reasons why women still prefer high fashion brands is because they are generally so much better quality than off-the-peg pieces of clothing. The best designer fashion brands always use top quality materials. And that means the clothes are more durable too. So, quality material doesn’t only feel good against your skin; it’s also a sign that the clothing will last for much longer without visible depreciation like stretching and colour-fading.

Wearing clothes from just one high fashion brand allows women to develop their own styles. There are various high-end brands to choose from, so you can effortlessly select one that suits your style and taste. High fashion brands like Chanel or Ralph Lauren highly recommended, as they are committed to helping clients develop their individual style via professional selection and a personalized-service. By sticking with just one brand that you adore, you can become identified with a particular style or design, and keep your fashion consistent.

Many women prefer high fashion brands because wearing designer clothing makes them feel prestigious. If you want to boost your social status, all you have to do is wear high-end brands. You can then brag about how you have the same designer as specific celebrities and gain attention from those around you. By wearing clothing designed by famous names, you can taste a little fame yourself.

Many women still prefer high fashion brands because they can be collectible. Who doesn’t want to own limited editions that will be the talk of the town? If you enjoy collecting, gaining a collection of high-end designer clothing could be a great hobby. By buying limited editions and collectibles, you will also find the items increase in value over time. So, collectible branded clothing could be a good investment.

The greatest reason of all for why women still like high fashion brands is simple: they’re fashionable. By wearing high-end designer clothes, you can feel like you’re somebody. You will stick out of the crowd by not wearing what everybody else is wearing. And you will show that you are up-to-date with all the latest trends. If you want to stay abreast of the current fashion trends, choosing high fashion brands is your best bet.

Celebrities and their favourite fashion designers

Ever noticed that certain celebrities seem to stick to their favourite labels like glue? Whether it’s because they’re BFFs with the fashion designers, are spokesmodels for the brands or are simply smitten with a certain

maison’s aesthetic, it seems that once an A-lister finds their fashion comfort zone there is no going back. With awards season in full swing and red carpet speculation heading into overdrive, we examine who is costuming whom.

Anne Hathaway and Valentino

It’s been said that Italian couturier Valentino Garavani’s popularity rivals that of the Pope in Rome and he has found his ultimate red carpet disciple in Anne Hathaway. Unabashedly one of “Val’s Gals,” the newly-engaged actress wears his molto elegante designs almost exclusively and, it’s been whispered, will walk down the aisle in a bespoke Va-va bridal gown.

Renee Zellwegger and Carolina Herrera

Quick, can you remember the last time Zellweger hit the red carpet in anything but Carolina Herrera? The Texan beauty is a true devotee of the New York-based designer saying that her clothes “make me feel as though I’m not trying too hard and that I’m telling the truth.”

Kate Middleton and Alexander McQueen

Between her now-iconic royal bridal gown and the breathtaking black velvet dress worn at a charity dinner over the holidays, the Duchess of Cambridge has quickly made the house of Alexander McQueen a household name. Sarah Burton, the creative director and successor to the designer, has emerged as a brilliant and inspired choice for a modern royal and together the two have managed to impress the entire fashion cognoscenti with every outing.

Pippa Middleton and Temperley London

When your big sister is marrying the future King of England, you can bet you’re getting your A-game on. Enter Alice Temperley, whose Temperley London line has long been the go-to

party-wear of choice for London’s glitterati. Pippa, was spotted in a glam emerald chiffon gown at the Royal Wedding reception and only a few months later took a front row seat at Temperley London’s Spring 2012 catwalk show.

She may be American’s quintessential golden girl but Blake Lively flies the flag for all things French, particularly when they form two interlocking Cs. As the newest face of Chanel’s Mademoiselle handbag line – hand-picked by the Kaiser himself – Blake makes the red carpet rounds clad in her favourite label and, in fact, is so crazy for Coco that she turned down other lucrative contracts to hold out for.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Stella McCartney

With two young kids and a rock star husband, Gwyneth’s look is decidedly more low-key than it once was but when the style maven does get kitted out, she selects

Stella McCartney’s form-fitting frocks to show off her intensely yoga-sculpted body. And why not? Over the past few seasons, sexy yet intellectual body-con have quickly become McCartney’s oeuvre.

Ashley Greene and Donna Karan

When Ashley signed on as the face of DKNY )last fall, the gig came with some serious perks namely in getting the First Lady of American fashion Donna Karan to custom design several of her red carpet confections. Apart from fronting the label’s campaigns and acting as a brand ambassador, theTwilight Saga star has already turned out in a spectacular array of jewel tone dresses.

Sienna Miller and Matthew Williamson

Despite having a fashion brand of her own in Twenty8Twelve, boho queen Sienna Miller has long been a muse to British designer Matthew Williamson. His effervescent bohemian-inspired designs are, quite literally, made for her.

Natalie Portman and Rodarte

Natalie isn’t just a friend or muse to Kate and Laura Mulleavy — the design duo behind the California-based label, Rodarte — she’s their golden ticket. When the

Black Swan actress stood up to collect her Oscar statuette last year, she did so not in a couture Dior design (for which she serves as a spokesperson) but clad in a frothy off-the-shoulder Rodarte confection. She also managed to hook the sisters up with a costume credit for the film and, based on their performance as well as Natalie’s avid support, we suspect it won’t be the last.

Lady Gaga and Mugler

Mother monster’s penchant for outré outfits and looks makes her hard to please. And while she’s often turned to Italian labels like Armani and Versace for her tour and stage costumes, Gaga’s fashion needs are fulfilled by one Nicola Formichetti, her stylist, BFF and newly installed creative director of the storied French fashion house of Thierry Mugler. The singer vamped it up for her modelling debut at Mugler and managed to get her paws on the entire collection in every colour.

Tilda Swinton and Haider Ackermann

In today’s cookie-cutter, keeping-up-with-the-Kardashians world, making an impression on the red carpet means making bold choices. Enter Scottish lass Tilda Swinton who transcends trends and embraces out-of-the-box designers like Jil Sander, Dries van Noten and, most notably, Belgian designer Haider Ackermann. His drapey silk dresses and jewel-toned pantsuits may not be everyone’s cup of tea but Tilda, ever the trailblazer, remains transfixed.

WOW, I was interested in brand names thought that brands made me a better and more respected person. When I was in college I got a part time job at a well known big name retail establishment. It was then when I realized how stupid I was. I stopped on my shoes and have never bought into the brand name fettish again said a top fashion designer.

I do own some luxury items like handbags because I love them, but if I can get same luxury goods I buy clothes now that look good on me, that flatter me and make me look younger. Who wants Ralph Lauren shirts that make you look like great granny? No, I would rather buy a blouse tht is low cut, no collar and sexy in nature that flatters me than a brand and a rider on the breast. I have strayed from big names brands and I intend to keep it so. Most of my matured friends are into this crap and we argue all the time. they think I can tell and otherc can tell that the jeans they wear are high dollar, really I cant tell unless they raise their blouse and show me the label. So stupidi so believe in you that labels aren’t everything. you can’t buy style, right? i grew and live in a place that only the richest can buy those designer pieces and where the there are so many malls but finding a really good place to shop is like a fortune. as my taste for clothes evolved, i realized that the best place to shop here without having to save so much are actually thrift shops said one of the models.

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The Boss Up Story

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Boss Up isn’t merely a brand name. It’s a manifestation of resilience and inner power in the form of a branding and social media marketing agency. Hafsa Killru, the Founder of Boss Up has a personal story and determination to ‘boss up’ that propelled her to launch her own venture to empower entrepreneurship, especially among small businesses.

Beginnings

The environment one grows up in has a remarkable effect on a young child’s mind. Watching two strong women in the family redefine the role of feminine power, a young Hafsa grew up ambitious too. Although brimming with the desire to create a change, her childhood was fraught with challenges that plague many children today – bullying. She was subject to severe bullying since the tender age of 10 at her places of education, which affected both her mental and physical health.

“I never fit in anywhere. I was never welcome among the cliques. But I didn’t let it affect my confidence. Keeping my circle small helped me stay focused on my studies. I’d spend this time alone in school libraries, often reading encyclopedias,” says Hafsa. “The bullying worsened in my teenage years. I was lonely but it worked out in my favour because I was never, and still not, someone who worries about ‘what will others say’ — a key obstacle in many people’s lives. Not having many friends meant I was not under peer pressure. This allowed me to be my authentic self.”

Hafsa’s writing career began quite unexpectedly when she was 17. Not only is she a content writer but also a poet who writes evocatively about mental health, healing and empowerment. But this didn’t come by easily either.

During her higher studies, those she considered to be her friends tried to crush her growth mindset, which eventually took a toll on her. It was only when she managed to remove herself from such environments did she become more self-aware and regain her confidence, thanks to the solitude it brought into her life.Yet again, a new set of obstacles awaited her in her early 20s. In 2019, she was turned down by over 20 companies within three months alone, which led to deep frustration and self-doubt. Although she had freelancing opportunities, the lockdown only added to her troubles.

But that’s when something clicked into place – an idea so obvious, so big and so right for her that Hafsa knew it was what all these adversities were pushing her towards. She realised the lockdown was putting undue pressure on businesses and it needed a solution. Especially small businesses were struggling to go online and create a sustainable brand, and that too at an affordable rate. How could they compete with incumbent brands with massive budgets and breakthrough technologies? She sought to give them the edge they needed and thus, Boss Up was born in October 2020.

“Inviting change, taking charge of the situation and choosing to do something on my own has to be, although scary, the most liberating decision I have ever made,” admits Hafsa. “The lockdown wasn’t the time for businesses to go silent. They needed business and marketing solutions that would help them overcome the situation.”

In today’s contemporary business world, a business of any size will only be running a losing race if it hasn’t developed a strong social media presence or a clear brand strategy. Hence, Boss Up ensures equal opportunities are given to entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

One and a half years into the business, Boss up is now global with its wings spread across countries like the UK, Canada, Dubai, Qatar, the Maldives and Australia, and is backed by a strong team of young and passionate minds.

The Purpose

Boss Up’s primary goal is to uplift entrepreneurs. The brand is also a strong advocate for inner power, confidence and resilience — the three main driving forces of ambition. It intends to help people who hail from struggling backgrounds; the ones who are inundated with a lack of support, seek self-sufficiency and are hungry to design a unique identity for themselves.The brand also strives to treat everyone at work with compassion and empathy whilst leading with kindness as it is crucial to reform work cultures that are hazardous to oneself.

Reach out to HAfsa via Instagram @hafsa_killru @bossup_srilanka or email bossup_srilanka@gmail.com.

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