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A string of pearls scattered over the deep blue Indian Ocean. From the air they look like a thousand shimmering jewels in a sea of velvet; an artist's fantasy or a photographer's dream. The Maldives, meaning 'garland of islands' has occupied a special place in the hearts of its visitors, reflected even in the very first writings about it. Marco Polo called it 'flowers of the Indies' others believed it was 'one of the wonders of the world'.

The Maldives consists of 1190 island grouped into 26 natural atolls. The atolls and islands of the Maldives are scattered over an area of 90,000 sq km in the Indian Ocean, straddling the equator between latitudes 7 6" North and 041" South and longitudes 72 32" and 73 45" East.No more than 200 islands are inhabited, the rest includes the 87 tourist resorts and uninhabited islands, some of which are used for drying fish or other agricultural activities.

The capital Malé, the seat of government and the centre of trade, commerce, business, health and education, is located in the middle of the atoll chain, a small island buzzing with the sounds and activities of about 75.000 people which is about one third of the population.
Today the country is better known as an exotic tourist destination. Over few decades Maldives has gained tremendous growth in Tourism industry with over 500,000 (five hundred thousand) tourists to Maldives every year

 

General Information

Fast Facts
Maldives history
Maldives Culture
Maldives Geography
Music and Craft
Maldives Climate
Environment
Male the Capital
Shopping
Interesting Places
Maldives People

 

 

 

 

 

Music and Craft
         
 

The beautifully carved tombstones in some of the old cemeteries and the fine stone carving of the Hukuru Miskiiy in Male' bear witness to the intricate skills of Maldivian stone carvers of the past. Maldivians are deft craftsman producing beautifully crafted pieces mostly out of what is available locally. Although many of the skills have been passed on from generation to generation and lives on even today.The art calligraphy has strong connections with the Islam. Old and new mosques display beautifully penned versus from the Holy Quran. The Islamic Center exhibits some of the finest samples of the work of modern calligraphers in the country. While many crafts have become obsolete, others have found new life with the advent of tourism. The production of ornaments from tortoise shells and black coral once valued by visitors has now ceased completely because of the growing careness among the public on the need to preserve the environment

Wooden Lacquer Ware
Perhaps the most distinctive of the Maldivian handicrafts, these are almost exlclusively produced in Thulhaadhoo in Baa Atoll. Liye Laajehun as it is called in Dhivehi involves the process of shaping and hollowing out pieces of wood to form beautifully crafted boxes, containers and ornamental objects. Made from the local funa, (Alexandrian laurel) which grows abundantly throughout the country, they come in various shapes and sizes; small pillboxes, vases of various sizes to round and oval plates with lids. These elegant pieces are lacquered in strands of red, black and yellow resin and delicately carved with flowing flowery patterns.

Mats
Beautiful red mats are woven throughout the country, the most famous of which are those that are woven by the women of Gadhdhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. Thundu Kunaa as they are known in Dhivehi ranges in size from that of a place mat to a full size single mattress. The women of Gadhdhoo collect the reeds called haa from the nearby island of Fioari. They are dried in the sun and stained with natural dyes, the colour varying from fawn to black. These mats with their intricate abstract designs are woven on a handloom according to the imagination and skill of the weaver.

MUSIC

Bodu Beru
Bodu Beru is the most popular form of music and dance in the country, enjoyed by the young and the old, men and women. There is a Bodu Beru troupe in almost every inhabited island and is regularly played at special functions and festivalss. The musical instruments used in Bodu Beru consist of three or four drums and a variety of percussion instruments. The drums are made from hollowed coconut wood and covered on both ends with manta ray skin or goat hide. A lead singer chants the lyrics and a chorus of 10 to 15 follows as they clap to the beat of the drums. The rhythm build as the song continues until it reaches a frenzied crescendo.

As the rhythm picks up, dancers come out from amongst the troupe swaying to the rhythm. As the beat becomes faster the dancers leap and jerk to the beat as if in a trance. Onlookers join in the clapping and dancing. Old men, suddenly catch a stray rhythm and throw themselves into the arena. To wild applause from the crowd they gyrate and grimace in their dance, passing on to the young what they have learnt from their forefathers. According to some historians Bodu Beru was introduced to the country in the early 19th century by African slaves. During the reign of Mueenuddeen I these slaves were liberated and sent to Feridhoo in Ari Atoll. It is believed that bodu beru spread out from there to become one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the country.

Thaara
Thaara also holds a special place in local entertainment. Two lines of men attired in white sit on the ground and sing beating hand drums while others dance between them. Thaara is believed to have been introduced from the Middle East in the seventeenth century. Today Thaara is only played at national events.

Dhandijehun
Dhandijehun is another form of entertainment, which is popular throughout the country. This is mostly performed to celebrate festive events such as Eid and other national occasions

Bandiya Jehun
Bandiyaa Jehun is a more popular form of dance performed by young women. The women carrying metal water pots stand in two lines facing each. They sing and dance to melodious tunes while taping the rhythm on the pots with rings worn on the fingers. Although western pop and Indian music is quite popular today, traditional forms of music and song that have been passed down to us by our ancestors survive. Raivaru, farihi and bandhi are all unique styles of singing that are still practiced by people around the country.

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