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The Sinhalese People and their Art

Nature volume 81, pages 3940 (08 July 1909) | Download Citation

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Abstract

TO many it will appear that in this work Dr. Coomaraswamy has attempted too much; certainly the three purposes for which he tells us the book has been written have so little in common that a book which even in measure shall satisfy all three cannot be otherwise than loosely knit and somewhat amorphous. This volume, we are told, is written “first of all for the Sinhalese people as a memorial of a period which at present they are not willing to understand…. Secondly it is meant for those in East and West who are interested in the reorganisation of life, and especially of the arts and crafts under modern conditions. Thirdly, an endeavour has been made to render it as far as possible of value to the anthropologist, and to students of sociology and folklore.” It seems very doubtful whether the Sinhalese people, with the possible exception of a few of the “educated” of whom Dr. Coomaraswamy speaks with scant sympathy, will appreciate the effort made for their benefit, and though there is much of interest to the folklorist and anthropologist in this sumptuous volume, it is as a work of art done for art's sake that the work is most interesting and valuable, and certainty few will be found to imitate Dr. Coomaraswamy's example at a time when publishers tell us éditions de luxe do not sell.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/081039a0

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