L.T.P. Manjusri

L.T.P. Manjusri
Lokukankanamge Thomas Peiris Manjusri (1902-1982) was a well-known Sri Lankan painter and one of the recipients of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1979.

Life events
Manjusri was born on 28 October 1902 in Alutgama village in Sri Lanka as the third of the five sons of the fisherman Lokukankanamge Appusinno Peiris, and his wife Ratnavira Patabendige Podinona de Silva (Dharmasiri, 1990). At the age of ten, he left the vernacular school due to ill health and started to work as a carpenter (Dharmasiri, 1990). However, he entered the Buddhist monastic life as a novice monk by the name Bhadanta Seelawamsa at the age of thirteen (1915) and started studying Buddhist Philosophy, Pali and Sanskrit at Mangala Pirivena school at Beruwala (Dharmasiri, 1990). He became an ordained monk in 1922 (Dharmasiri, 1990).
In 1932 he went to Shantiniketan in eastern India to study Chinese (Dharmasiri, 1990). Spending his time there from 1932 to 1934 and again from 1936 to 1937, Manjusri returned to Sri Lanka in 1937 (Dharmasiri, 1990). He stayed at Gothami Viharaya in Borella and started visiting Buddhist temples around Sri Lanka to make copies of ancient paintings, especially paintings of the Kandyan Period (Dharmasiri, 1990). He systematically documented and copied or traced, thousands of neglected and fast disappearing mural paintings. He also generated public awareness about the importance of these paintings by publishing articles in both Sinhala and English languages. 

Manjusri was one of the founding members of the Colombo '43, a group of Sri Lankan artists established in August 1943. In 1950 he left the Buddhist order and became a lay. He married late in life (1955) and had one son and two daughters.

In 1979 he was conferred the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts, in recognition of his contribution to the preservation of the 2,000 years old classical art tradition found in Sri Lankan Buddhist temples for the people of Sri Lanka and the world. In 1981, the University of Peradeniya awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree (Dharmasiri, 1990).

Manjushri died in 10 July 1982 at the age of 80 (Dharmasiri, 1990).

Some of the paintings by Manjusri are listed below;
1) The Drummers (1943) - water-colour on paper
2) Woman in Purdah (1944) - water-colour on paper
3) The Dancers (1947) - water-colour on paper
4) Nun and Noble Female Devotee (1973) - water-colour on paper
5) Artist (1974) - oil on card
6) Lotus and Fish (1975) - oil on card
7) Woman in Hat (1976) - water-colour on paper
8) Stone Flower (1978) - water-colour on paper

1) Dharmasiri, A., 1990. Section V: Painting Modern Period (1815-1950). Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series; Vol. V. Painting. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). pp.129-130,137

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This page was last updated on 16 July 2022
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