Towards recognizing Traditional Knowledge Systems

  • Gamini Wijesuriya


Despite his strong association with William Morris who pioneered the Modern Conservation Movement and became one of its advocates, Coomaraswamy highlighted the importance of traditional knowledge systems, traditional crafts and associated literary and other sources among which was the Sri Lankan version of the Mayamata. Suchknowledge, although overlooked by those who developed the modern conservation movement is now being considered globally as important sources for conservation and management of heritage both cultural and natural. The purpose of this brief survey is to provide a glimpse of such knowledge as evident from several sources.


Abungu, George (ed.) (2016) Traditional management systems at heritage sites in Africa, African World Heritage Fund, Midrand, South Africa.

Coomaraswamy, Ananda (1905) “An open letter to the Kandyan Chiefs”, Ceylon Observer, 17th February, 1905, pp. 5-6.

Coomaraswamy, Ananda (1979) Mediaeval Sinhalese art, Govt. of Sri Lanka (Third Edition), Colombo.

International Council for Science - Conseil International pour la Science (2002) Science and traditional knowledge: Report from the ICSU Study Group on science and traditional knowledge, ICSU-UNESCO [] (consulted on 24 May 2012).

Joffroy, Thierry (ed.) (2005) Traditional conservation practices in Africa, ICCROM, Rome.

Lutchmansingh, Larry D. (1990) “Ananda Coomaraswamy and William Morris”, Journal of William Morris Studies 9 (1): 35-42.

Nara document (1994) Nara document on authenticity, UNESCO/Government of Japan/ICCROM/ICOMOS, Nara.

Paranavitana, Senarath (ed.) (1933) Epigraphia Zeylanica, Volume 3, published for the Government of Ceylan, London.

UN (1992) Convention on biological diversity, United Nations Organisation, New York.

UNESCO (1972) Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage, UNESCO, Paris.

Wijesuriya, Gamini (1993) Restoration of Buddhist monuments in Sri Lanka: the case for an archaeological heritage management strategy, ICOMOS Sri Lanka, Colombo (MA dissertation, York University).

Wijesuriya, Gamini (2017) “Towards the de-secuarisation of heritage”, Built Heritage 1 (2): 1-15.

Wijesuriya, Gamini and Sarah Court (eds.) (forthcoming) Applicability and adaptability of traditional knowledge systems in conservation and management of heritage in Asia, ICCROM, Rome.

World Heritage Centre (2005) Operational guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, World Heritage Centre, UNESCO, Paris.
Cómo citar
Wijesuriya, G. (2019). Towards recognizing Traditional Knowledge Systems. Conversaciones Con., (6), 177-184. Recuperado a partir de