‘The Bud­dhist Robe’

Path point­ing to nat­u­ral dyes and pos­si­ble es­tab­lish­ment of a nat­u­ral dye­ing in­dus­try

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - FEATURES - By Pro­fes­sor Ajith De Al­wis

Chem­i­cal and Process En­gi­neer­ing De­part­ment of the Mo­ratuwa Univer­sity; Project Di­rec­tor, Co­or­di­nat­ing Sec­re­tar­iat for Science Tech­nol­ogy and In­no­va­tion (COSTI); Science, Tech­nol­ogy and Re­search Min­istry Authoresse­s

Prof. U.G. Sa­mu­drika Wi­jaya­pala, Dr. Gay­athri Madub­hani Ranathunga and Dr. Priyanka Vi­ra­jini Medagedara Karunaratn­e; Se­nior lec­tur­ers, Tex­tile and Cloth­ing Tech­nol­ogy De­part­ment, En­gi­neer­ing Fac­ulty, Mo­ratuwa Univer­sity. Pub­lished by S. Godage & Brothers (PVT) LTD – March 2019.

The book ti­tled ‘The Bud­dhist Robe’ is an ex­cit­ing read that trans­ports the reader through a jour­ney of an an­cient prac­tice into the mod­ern days which has sur­vived to-date in Sri Lanka. The book is a re­sult of a part­ner­ship of con­trib­u­tors of en­gi­neer­ing, arts and de­sign – an appealing com­bi­na­tion that should re­sult in a re­mark­able out­put and I cer­tainly vouch for that cre­ative out­put which is present. It is in­ter­est­ing to read the ver­sa­tile na­ture of the Bud­dhist monas­tic robe, the possibilit­y of seat-spread to a wind­break. No won­der the robe is taken as a par­a­digm for re­source cas­cad­ing by many an au­thor who in­di­cates the rel­e­vance of the con­cept to a sus­tain­able so­ci­ety. The authoresse­s’ com­ment on this cloth­ing style, per­haps as the old­est of the kind in vogue af­ter

2,500 years, is fas­ci­nat­ing.

I wish they gave a more defini­tive state­ment on that by spend­ing a lit­tle more time be­fore pub­lish­ing.

Yet, the ti­tle of the book hides, per­haps, an in­ner story of green­ing the tex­tile in­dus­try. There is an ad­di­tion to the ti­tle in much more small print – the path point­ing to nat­u­ral dyes and pos­si­ble es­tab­lish­ment of a nat­u­ral dye­ing in­dus­try in the lo­cal ap­parel sec­tor with spe­cial ref­er­ence to the Bud­dhist robe which ar­tic­u­lates an im­por­tant con­cept. Dyes add colour and colour of all things at­tract tex­tile to the user as such sig­nif­i­cant qual­ity pa­ram­e­ters are in­volved to­day when dyes are ap­plied and their ef­fi­ciency is as­sessed. The tex­tile and ap­parel in­dus­try wit­nessed the rapid trans­for­ma­tion to syn­thet­ics upon their dis­cov­ery but with time en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues did be­come ap­par­ent. How are we to ad­dress this emerging prob­lem is what the book tack­les in an in­no­va­tive ap­proach.

The Bud­dhist robe never left na­ture and 2,500 years later, the prac­tice con­tin­ues – strength­ened by mod­ern tools, there is an op­por­tu­nity for an eco-in­dus­try. Here is the cou­pling of the in­ner-story to the pri­mary ti­tle of the book. The saf­fron robe in­tro­duces to the reader the sus­tain­abil­ity as­pect of the fab­ric of a Bud­dhist monk. Tak­ing that les­son, the reader is sen­si­tised to try over a mul­ti­tude of dyes and colours com­ing from flow­ers, roots, wood, bark and stem, for a brand new in­dus­try in Sri Lanka. As the con­tents span from arts to sci­ences, there is some­thing for ev­ery­body in this guide. It is a book that must be in any­one’s col­lec­tion. It has more in the sense that an eco­nomic plan­ner too can learn on an ap­proach the world is cry­ing out for to­day. The book is wellil­lus­trated on both the past and the present; valu­able to the reader would be the il­lus­tra­tions on the robe and its tech­ni­cal­i­ties. Il­lus­tra­tions on the robe’s jour­ney through time are a story in it­self. The ex­ten­sive bib­li­og­ra­phy adds value. I congratula­te the three authoresse­s for an in­ter­est­ing and use­ful pub­li­ca­tion. How­ever, do not stop at the 90th plant – turmeric – go on. Re­mem­ber, we are in a bio­di­ver­sity hotspot!

The ti­tle of the book hides, per­haps, an in­ner story of green­ing the tex­tile in­dus­try. There is an ad­di­tion to the ti­tle in much more small print

Dr. Priyanka Vi­ra­jini Medagedara Karunaratn­e

Prof Sa­mu­drika Wi­jaya­pala

Dr Gay­athri Madub­hani Ranathunga

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