Colombo in the breaking of the N.W. Monsoon
Photographer: Skeen and Company, William Henry Louis
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph showing heavy seas striking the breakwater in the harbour in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, taken by William Henry Louis Skeen and Company in the 1870s. Skeen's firm, set up in Colombo in the1860s, comprised the most famous photographers of the 19th century in Sri Lanka, extensively documenting industry, landscape and racial types, recording the construction of the Ceylon Railways and the Colombo Breakwater, and exhibiting at major international exhibitions between 1870-1900. Colombo, the commercial centre of Sri Lanka, developed from the ancient port and fishing villages of Kalamba. Its strategic location made it known as a trading port and gateway to Sri Lanka. In the 15th century, it was a Sinhalese capital called Kotte, and in the 16th century the Portuguese established a fort here. In turn, the Portuguese and then the Dutch ruled over Colombo and finally the British established themselves here in 1796. The town and harbour were developed and modernised by the British and Colombo became the capital of Sri Lanka, taking over from Kandy, and it also became the island's main port surpassing both Trincomalee and Galle, both of which were natural harbours. There are two monsoons a year in Sri Lanka, the Yala season from May to July, which affects the south-western part of the island, and the Maha season which runs from December to January in the north-eastern regions.