The Maldives may be known as the perfect tropical getaway, but beyond the sun-kissed beaches and luxury resorts, you will also find a rich culture rooted in ancient traditions. Below you will find aspects that will give you a deeper understanding of life and livelihood in this destination.
tropical-beach-sunset | img via Negative Space
Maldivian culture is a fascinating blend of influences from South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The traditional attire reflects this unique fusion. Men often wear the “mundu,” which is like a sarong, wrapped around the waist, and worn with a coloured or white shirt. Meanwhile, women, don the graceful “libaas,” which cover their body apart from the hands and face. While such conservative attire is worn on local islands, those staying at Maldives water villas or beach bungalows on private islands do not have to adhere to such a dress code.
Arts and Crafts
The country is home to a thriving community of artists and artisans. It’s known for beautiful lacquerwork, especially on Thulhaadhoo Island where local craftspeople transform wooden objects into intricate pieces of art. Another tradition that has been passed down through the generations is mat weaving using hibiscus plant fibres; you also get coconut wood carving, where ordinary coconut palm wood is transformed into handicrafts, masks and more. Some resorts like SAii Lagoon Maldives offer guests access to the Maldives Discovery Centre where one can learn more about local arts and crafts.
Music and Dance
The local music and dance reflect the vibrant spirit of the people. Energetic Boduberu, a traditional drumming and dance performance, has East African influences and will have you tapping your feet to its infectious rhythm. You also get a folk music and dance called Thaara which uses an instrument known as the foti and boduberu dhandi which is a small drum. Additionally, you get the Langiri traditional performance which features graceful dance movements and music from the bodu beru fali, another kind of small drum.
The local markets in Maldives also play an important part in life here. Some of the most well-known of these can be found in the capital including the Male Fish Market, where you can witness the traditional fishing culture, with fresh catch on display. Additionally, on this island, is the Male Local Market, which is a bustling hub of activity, offering fresh produce, handicrafts, spices and more. You also get the Thinadhoo Market featuring a wide range of traditional handicrafts including mats and lacquerware.