Kuveni, or the curse of a woman as a flash point for music-oriented (re)constructions

The world of music 46,3.2004:15-36

##Sadness, tears and a reviled woman´s curse are the flash point for this article, which focuses on Kuveni, the legendary foremother of the Sinhalese and the Veddha minority of Sri Lanka. She is an iridescent outline, due to a lack of historically provable evidence, she can be reborn and reconstructed according to the needs and spirit of the time, or of the individual artist of a drama, dance, music, or combined performance of all these together. The article follows a musical line of Kuveni reconstructions, beginning with Kuleni Asne, an orally-transmitted part of the protection ritual Kohomba Kankariya. The article also examines a continuation of the Kuveni motif in a postcolonial music drama by distinguished author and actor Henry Jayasena and his composers Mr. Bandara and Lylie Godridge, and engages with a composition and re-interpretation of the story of award-winning composer Diliup Gabadamudalige in a world music context. In addition to making musical observations, the article also illuminates aspects of gender in its examination of facets of the flash-point figure Kuveni, and also by reflecting on the conternporary independence of women in the socially critical lyrics of a song by Carlo Fonseka.##

Keywords: kuveni, Veddas, musicology, ritual and music, drama and music, world music