Serendip is a London-based business selling ecological and traditional arts and crafts, all handmade in Sri Lanka. My aim is to support independent artisans and those who create new products from upcycled materials. Progress is good if it improves the lives of the Sri Lankan people, but I hope it can be done without losing ties to their cultural heritage, and without the destructive effects of over-industrialisation.
About Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a beautiful island just off the south-eastern tip of India. It has been a stopping point for traders between Europe, the Middle East and the Far East for centuries. Noted for spices and gems, and more recently, the world-famous Ceylon tea, Sri Lanka also has a vibrant tradition of arts and crafts. Despite being a small island, it has a wide diversity of landscapes - from lush, tropical beaches to cool, misty mountains. It has a rich heritage of ancient civilisations, Buddhist temples and monasteries, combined with colonial influences. There is an abundant wildlife and it is famed for its own species of Asian elephant.
The meaning of Serendip
Sri Lanka has been known by many names in the past. The ancient Greeks called it Taprobane, the Romans knew it as Selan, the Portuguese and Dutch referred to it as Zeilan (later adapted to Ceylon by the British). Arab traders in the middle ages called it Serendib, and the Persian variation, Serendip, gave rise to an ancient Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip, whose heroes were always making accidental discoveries of things they were not looking for. It is from this story that we get the word serendipity, first used by Horace Walpole in 1754.
The inspiration behind Serendip began many years ago when my family lived in Sri Lanka for a few years. We were based in Colombo and travelled extensively around the island, visiting many of the ancient monuments and temples steeped in local culture and history. I loved the beautiful arts and crafts products which we saw everywhere, especially anything featuring elephants!
Sarah Baldwin (owner, Serendip)
Contact me at:
UK MOBILE 078333 85644
With thanks to:
Dennis Candy - regional adviser, Sri Lanka
Sachith Sameera - transport and communications manager, Sri Lanka