Daily News Online

Wednesday, 27 July 2011




S M Senevirathne Creator of national crest

Some are born with certain talents in certain areas/disciplines and some acquire talents during his/her lifetime through training and exercise. Born talents could be developed easily and quickly to reach higher levels rather than acquired talents. Much needed creativity for a country, comes more with born talents. S M Seneviratne (SMS) easily belongs to the first category of a person cherished with born talents in array of subjects such as art, painting, archaeology and architecture.

S M Senevirathne

He mastered and developed his born talents and served the country with utmost devotion as an extremely duty bound citizen. Workaholism and duty consciousness are his forte. These are golden qualities that were maintained throughout his entire life as a silver lining. Those qualities may have helped for his success as a public servant.

SMS was born in the village called Kivulpone and received his early education from Deliwala Sinhala Vidyalaya, Rambukkana and St Maryís College, Kegalle.

He started his life as a Trainee Draftsman at Archaeology Department and rose up to an Assistant Commissioner serving for 35 years admirably with an unblemished record before the retirement. SMS was first selected to the post of Trainee Draftsman by none other than Prof Senarath Paranawithana, the celebrated and world renowned archaeologist (the first Sri Lankan Commissioner of Archaeology).

This he mentions with real pride. Subsequently he served under famous archaeology commissioners like Prof. Charles Godakumbura, Dr Sadhdam Mangala Karunaratne and Dr Roland Silva.

This humble and unassuming man celebrated his 90th birthday on July 20. He is now feeble and unstable in thinking too, but still remembering past historically valued nostalgia in the work sites in Anuradhapura and Sigiriya. He says that his second home is Anuradhapura where he worked with ancient treasures for years.


To bring out a high quality creation the qualities like highest level of self discipline, patience and the attitude of indifference are necessarily important for an Artist. SMS had these qualities in abundance. When makes a creation he admires it first and looks at it for hours and hours patiently to find out even a tiny error. He was always searching the word perfection in his creations. If he is not satisfied with the product he will not allow it to go out of his room. In the true sense SMS is a highly disciplined artist who valued professional ethics than money. That is why he is undergoing the present status of his life.

In his career in the public service, SMS has made hundreds of new creations using his invaluable hands, eyes and brain. His gifted talents in art and sensibility to ancient treasures are incomparable. In real terms he is an archivist and a great lover of national heritage. This simple and small man in size, brought enormous added values to the nation. The difference is that all these are individually created products.

Of his valuable creations two take prominence: national crest and restoration of Sigiriya Frescos with Italian national Lousiyano Maransi.

After destroying of Sigiriya frescos by some vandals, Prof. Paranawithana selected SMS as his first choice to work with Maransi. SMS explains that how he laboured continuously for six months forgetting his wife and children temporarily, under extremely trying conditions to clear the damaged frescos to bring them to the present condition. Is the present generation(s) who visit(s) Sigiriya know(s) this saga? There should be some notice on what has happened and who are instrumental to restore the existing condition. It is a sort of paying gratitude to whom it deserves.

Inter alia, for these two creations the name of SMS should deposit in the annals of Sri Lankan history permanently. These two creations are historical, long lasting and never ever can be erased or forgotten.

Further, SMS has created so many logos for several prominent institutions. Among them are Colombo University, YMBA, Dehiwala-Mt. Lavinia Municipal Council and Sampath Bank. His service to the nation is immeasurable and invaluable.

No one can simply price them. In most of the development works the name of a person is laid down because of his/her initiative or work is done under his/her supervision. However, the actual work is done by some others. But in this case the entire creation/product is made merely by using his own hands, talent, eyes and brains only. Nevertheless the difference is that his name is not laid down anywhere. Even his name will vanish with his demise. The question is this the way to value/assess a long lasting creation of a human being?

SMS received many awards, among them, Kalapathi, Kalabhushana, and Puravidya Chackravarti take a prominent place. He is a legend among who value artistic creations and talents which is indeed a scarce commodity. SMS is soft spoken with less talk and more action, but very sharp and sagacious.

Very recently some positive action was taken by the present government to pay artistes (singers, composers and musicians) under the Intellectual Property Act. However, a person like SMS may have received only his normal monthly salary for the creation of such monumental and everlasting creations of the national logo, the preservation of Sigiriya frescos etc in spite of their historical and priceless value.

The attention of the nation should be focussed on the artists of the calibre of SMS. You hardly find another person with these talents and capabilities to engage in this type of tiny but vigorous craftsmanship.

It is to show a deep sense of gratitude to the men/women blessed with remarkable personal talents and did an appreciative service lasting for ages. It is strongly felt that more attention of the government/nation should be focussed on these extraordinary talented individuals who could be considered as treasures of the nation, especially when they are in the twilight days of their lives after making tremendous service to the nation irrespective of race, creed or religion.

I shall wind up my note on this exceptional and stupendous artist with a quotation of his sonís (Indrajith) publication. Indrajith mentions about three special degrees offered by the University of Society for an artiste who sows devotion to the country and nation.

First degree is that no payment is made for his/her creativity. Even if a payment is made it goes to the pocket of someone else.

Second degree is that after obtaining unlimited services from an artist, throw him/her away to a corner even by erasing of his/her name.

Third degree is that the creation totally goes under the name of someone else.

May this be an eye-opener for the section of the people who is really sensitive to art, culture, ancient treasures and craftsmanship.



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