Images disguise complicated history in island’s British-dominated past
COLOMBO — About 20 years ago, Anura Saparamadu stumbled across something online that changed his life.
It was an image of a vintage poster — if he remembers right, a Quantas promotional advert with a stylized sketch of a Kandyan dancer against a bright red background, promoting the Australian airline’s early flights to Ceylon, as Sri Lanka was known until 1972.
“I never knew such posters existed,” Anura said. “When I started to collect them nobody else was doing it and, a lot of my friends asked me why I was collecting scraps of worthless paper. Now many of these posters sell for thousands of dollars.”
Anura is among Sri Lanka’s small but dedicated community of people who collect old photos and posters that paint the country in a romantic light during the heyday of British colonial rule and the early years of independence after 1948.