Friday, December 16, 2011

Culture of the Maldives

The unique culture of Maldives is a blend of flavours from various cultures of the visitors who set foot in this island nation. The first settlers are believed to be from Sri Lanka and Southern India. As Maldives lie on the trade route of ancient marine trade, African, Arab and South East Asian mariners often visited the Maldives. Hence the influences of Indian, Sri Lankan, African, Arabian and South East Asian cultures are reflected in Maldivian lifestyle.
Maldivian royal family in the 1900s

Maldivians have their own language called ‘Dhivehi’ which originated from Sanskrit and Sinhala. Before its conversion to Islam in the 1153 AD, Hinduism and Buddhism were practiced in the Maldives. This is supported by the Archaeological evidence found from various parts of the Maldives. The language and religion is an essential part of the culture of Maldives.

Islamic Centre and mosque in the capital city, Male'
The Maldivian culture is rich in skilled arts and crafts. These skills which have been passed on from generation to generations can be seen on the carved tombstones in some of the old cemeteries and the fine stone carving of the Hukuru Miskiiy in Male’. Maldivian craftsmen also have produced some renowned works of art seen in handicrafts, wooden lacquer ware, mats and boat building.
Stone carvings at Hukuru Miskiiy 
Music and dance seems to be one of the many aspects of the Maldivian culture. ‘Bodu Beru‘ is believed to have come from African slaves that settled in the Maldives, in the early 19th century. This is the most popular music and dance in Maldives. ‘Thaara‘ and other forms of dance and music such as ‘bandiyaa jehun‘ were very much enjoyed by Maldivians, in the past.
"Bodu Beru"