Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka

Muthu Kuda

The modern-day umbrella is used as protection against rain. However, its original purpose was to shade a person from the sun. There is an abundance of references to the usage of umbrellas in art and literature, universally. However, when it comes to Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka, it is a device used to shield Buddhist Monks from the effects of nature.

The noble past of the umbrella

The earliest known umbrellas can be seen in Egyptian artistic form dating back to the fifth dynasty, circa 2450 BC. Even today one can see many temple wall paintings depicting a servant holding a parasol (umbrella) over a God during a procession. In fact, due to the intricate expertise needed to hand-make them in ancient times, umbrellas became objects of power and status. In particular, they were used to protect important people such as gods, royalty, and religious leaders. This led to many religions adopting umbrellas as part of their ceremonies. Similarly, Muthu Kuda was associated with Buddhism since its inception.

What is a Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka?

A Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka is not used by all and sundry. In effect, they are primarily used to shield Buddhist monks. The ostentatious use of the Muthu Kuda signifies it as a step above the ordinary. Henceforth, that is why we don’t see a layman carrying or using a Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka.

What differentiates a Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka?

# Fabric colour

The fabric of the canopy is made out of polyester fabric and is saffron colour. We also see many Muthu Kuda in orange colour. Why orange? Orange is associated with the Theravada Buddhist followers in Southeast Asia. Thus, there is a connection

# The tip

The tip of the Muthu Kuda is riveted to carved wooden object signifying a sphere.

# Wooden Handle

Apart from the canopy, the wooden handle is the single most customisable element of the Muthu Kuda. Accordingly, the wooden handle dominates the larger portion of the shaft.

# Perimeter tape

The perimeter tape is fixed ith ornate sequins and tussles giving the Muthu Kuda a majestic look.

# The shaft

The pole or shaft of the umbrella symbolises the celestial pole representing the connection between the heaven and the earth. Consequently, Buddhists give the Muthu Kuda the pride of place as it is associated with a temple in motion

# Shape

Muthu Kuda made to Octagonal shapes are common. In this case, the octagon shape represents the Nobel Eightfold path, one of the principal teachings of Buddhism. For instance, it consists of eight practices: right view, speech, resolve, conduct, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and right samadhi.

Types of Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka

There are simple Muthu Kuda designs and ones embellished with triple pagodas. Also available are Muthu Kuda printed with various Buddhist icons. They consist of “Bodhi Tree” leaf, dharma wheel representing knowledge, and lotus flower representing purity and enlightenment. The conch shell represents the spreading the teachings of the Buddha far and wide. Also, one will find models ornately decorated with sequins.

Muthu Kuda and Buddhism

Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka

When a Muthu Kuda is open, the shape is like a dome or a stupa housing sacred relics. Similar to the rays of the Buddha, casting its shadow of protection on the earth. Notably, the Muthu Kuda is hoisted above an important person or to shield the image of a deity. Besides, the use of the Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka denotes that deities are entitled to respect.

How many panels does an umbrella have?

The usual Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka has eight panels, and as many as twelve can occasionally be found. At one point, the number of panels in an umbrella was an indication of the quality of attention the umbrella maker paid to his product. That is to say, the more the panels an umbrella has, the more sturdy and long-lasting it will be.

Where to buy a Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka?

Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka can be purchased online through leading e-commerce sites like Further, they are available at Religious goods stores located in any major town. In general, a high quality four and a half feet Muthu Kuda is priced around Rs 5,350 upwards. Moreover, there are elaborate designs priced around Rs. 10,000. 


When a Monk or a group of Monks visit a home or business establishment to chant blessing, it is a traditional norm to give them a gift or offering. Indeed, such gifts form an appreciation a layperson can portray to the faith. However, giving a gift is not considered charity. But rather an exchange, as the Monks have provided his gift in the form of Buddhist teachings. All in all, many routine things that a Monk would need could be offered. At the same time, you can present Muthu Kuda in Sri Lanka, as religious offerings.

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