The Unmistakable Patterns of Upcountry Roofs

The early colonial settlers – the Portuguese and the Dutch – brought, or recreated their gorgeous terracotta half-round tile roofs when they built, down around the coasts

Lowcountry Roof, Donald Friend


A vignette from a large mural by Donald Friend in the Sunroom at “Brief” depicting a Dutch-style low country dwelling with its characteristic half-round terracotta roof tiles.

but upcountry, in the Kandyan Kingdom, things were different.  Upcountry roofs bear a common, and unmistakable use of pattern on flat stone, flint or terracotta tiles.

Upcountry Roof in Stone

And while we’re on roofs, and patterns

and the simple patterned bronze sheeting on the dome of the Chatham Street mosque:

Swirl in Bronze

Finally – to rest our necks – simple patterned paving stones.  The device of indenting leaf patterns into wet concrete was begun by Bevis Bawa and his friend, Donald Friend, simply through lack of choice – concrete was pretty well all that was available, so they used it.

Pattern Inprints

This link for or other – gorgeous – patterned posts in response to this weeks Photo Challenge.

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22 thoughts on “The Unmistakable Patterns of Upcountry Roofs

  1. These patterns are special, esp. the patterned paving stones! I will see you two weeks later when I’m back from my vacation…

    • I’m so glad to hear I can sometime surprise people – it’s terrible to be predictable, I think!

      Yes – the leaves were an inspired way to dress up the concrete paths, especially back then, when Mrs. Bandaranieke’s government was all ‘socialist’ and ‘luxury’ imports were a no no!

  2. The different roof patterns are fascinating but I love the leaf imprints – simple, economical and available they may be, but stunning.

  3. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge – Pattern: Roofs | Flickr Comments

  4. This was a good challenge and I’ve enjoyed viewing everyone’s interpretation, like yours here. The leaf-patterned concrete is beautiful but I think the dome of the mosque steals the show. All told, you definitely met the challenge.

  5. Love the roof patterns. I don’t think I have seen anything like that here, not even on the West Coast where the architecture is similar! The leaf imprint on concrete is gorgeous 🙂

    • i would be very surprised if the old Kandyan patterns didn’t originate, in some form from your neck of the woods because the Kandyan kings were very ‘Tamil’, despite their Rajasinhe and Ranasinhe type names. I need to do some proper research on it because I suspect roofs might originally have been made from wooden shingles, there being no coconut palms up there in the mountains.

      The leaf imprints are super, aren’t they? They became all the rage and are still being used now but people who’re into simplicity. Funny, eh? The device was used because they just couldn’t get anything other than concrete, now (some) people are bombarded with all the chichi imports and are opting to use the simple leaf imprints instead. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Apropos of Patterns … | The Wanderlust Gene

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