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