Our monthly stories are productions looking to connect people to the magic of stories.

We create supplementary reading lists as a way to give you an insight into the inspirations and thinking behind our monthly stories. These reading lists take you behind the story, revealing the process of its making.



Rasa → Bhayānakam (भयानकं): Horror, terror. Presiding deity: Yama. Colour: black, Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Presiding deity: Brahma. Colour: yellow





This story was created based on the ruler archetype in the teachings of Carl Gustav Jung. According to his theories, the human mind is not a blank slate at birth (tabula rasa), and instead, inherits biological aspects, fundamental, and unconscious elements of our ancestors. This is where archetypes—proto patterns of the human mind—come in. Among the twelve archetypes of the human mind described by Jung, the ruler is one of the most recognizable and corruptible. The core desire of this archetype is gaining power and exercising control. The Ruler archetype is one of the most dangerous archetypes in its shadow, becoming authoritarian.

In the current socio-political context across the world, and in Sri Lanka where a majority of our subscribers live, we’re witnessing examples of the shadow rulers establishing totalitarian and authoritarian governments leaving little space for public opinion, let alone dissent. Jung’s teaching can help us develop a view of the world and its problems that includes the spiritual, psychological and the cultural.

Parallel to this, we worked with two main aesthetic flavours from the eastern Rasa theory—bhayānakam rasa which brings on moods connecting to terror and the adbūtha rasa evoking the strange and the mysterious. This reading list includes some of the literature, writing, music and films that inspired us in the making of this story.

  • The emotion of terror, or bhayanaka rasa, has its origin in the dominant state of fear. The vibhavas of this state are hideous noises, sights of ghosts, panic, anxiety, staying in an empty house, sight of death, and the captivity of dear ones. The anubhavas of this state are the trembling of the hands and feet, change of colour, and the loss of voice. Its bhavas are paralysis, perspiration, fear, stupefaction, dejection, agitation, restlessness, inactivity, epilepsy, and death.

  • Wood from kaluwara, Diospyros ebenum, or kaggawali, commonly known as Ceylon ebony, is highly valued for its incredibly dense heartwood, which takes at least a hundred and fifty years to mature into its coveted deep black. Kaluwara is a strictly protected species, but this rare wood is still illegally harvested by people and companies of influence.

  • 2002, Female Ruler Archetype of Empress St Helena. Homza Christian,

  • Stanford Experiment; The Stanford prison experiment (SPE) was designed to examine the effects of situational variables on participants' reactions and behaviors in a two-week simulation of a prison environment. Stanford University psychology professor Philip Zimbardo led the research team who ran the study in the summer of 1971. What happened when a few normal people were given absolute power and what they did with it. A cautionary true story about the human factor in cultism today.

  • There are few who have been stalwarts of Sri Lankan politics in the last half-century quite like the man often referred to as “the fox”. Ranil Wickremesinghe gained the nickname for his apparently wily ability to repeatedly resurrect his political career from the worst failures. Finally, last July, Wickremesinghe achieved what had appeared to be a lifelong political dream: he took the executive office of the president of Sri Lanka without a single vote from his citizens and through a parliamentary secret ballot.

  • 2004, Tarot Cards: An Investigation of their Benefit as a Tool for Self Reflection. Gigi Hofer, Concordia University.

  • The Sri Lankan devil bird: In Sri Lankan folklore, the Devil Bird or Ulama is a creature said to emit bloodcurdling human-sounding shrieks in jungles at night. Its precise identity is still a matter of debate although the spot-bellied eagle-owl matches the profile of Devil Bird to a large extent.

  • The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil is a 2007 book which includes professor Philip Zimbardo's first detailed, written account of the events surrounding the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) — a prison simulation study which had to be discontinued after only six days due to several distressing outcomes and mental breaks of the participants. The book includes over 30 years of subsequent research into the psychological and social factors which result in immoral acts being committed by otherwise moral people. The book won the American Psychological Association's 2008 William James Book Award.

  • 1991, Administrative Adaptability: The Dutch East India Company and Its Rise to Power. D. Gerstell.

  • Kane's content mainly consists of short films as well as animations that induce terror asan aesthetic flavour. He has made films based on the Backrooms, and animations based on Attack on Titan. More of his work and details reveal Kane’s impressive knack for understanding the emotion of terror.

  • New research digs deeper into the social science behind why power brings out the best in some people and the worst in others

  • The Last King of Scotland is a 2006 historical drama film directed by Kevin Macdonald from a screenplay by Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock. Based on Giles Foden's 1998 novel, it depicts the dictatorship of Ugandan President Idi Amin through the perspective of a fictional Scottish doctor. The film stars Forest Whitaker and James McAvoy in these respective roles, with Kerry Washington, Simon McBurney, and Gillian Anderson in supporting roles. The title of the film refers to Amin's claim of being the King of Scotland.

  • Bob Dylan - A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall


  • Colombo is not Sri Lanka’s capital, but it is the one city that you can’t avoid in matters of gaining access, and sometimes even viewpoints, to the world beyond. Understanding Colombo has much to do with exploring its unshakably commercial soul and origins.

>> Read the previous reading list

When we started ideating a wearable merch series for Public Works, we wanted to make something that sparks curiosity, prompts questions about what we do and calls for storytelling. Why? Because merchandise that gets people curious and triggers conversation are perfect to get them connecting with our brand in a meaningful way. Besides, stories are one of the most wonderful ways to share information and enjoy creative expression with another person. We also wanted to make our merchandise highly consumable, timeless product types that people of many generations can relate to across different cultures; This is why we decided to design Public Works merch around the most ubiquitous clothing item of our times—the T-shirt. And of course, it couldn’t be that standard logo on the T-shirt. Our brief to ourselves was to make it something that makes people curious about what Public Works does.

Just as we tell our clients, we started with the brand values. Public Works being a company with creative thinking at its core, we wanted to make merchandise that reflected this imaginative spirit through an interesting story. To trigger questions about what we do, we looked into our work process for a good story seed. This is how we ended up designing a T-shirt series portraying iconic personalities that represent Public Works’ primary brand personality archetype—the creator archetype.

An archetype is a prototype or a model; a primitive ‘type’ inherited from the earliest human ancestors and supposed to be present in the collective unconscious according to a psychoanalytic theory put forward by Carl Jung. At Public Works, we use these Jungian archetypes in our storytelling process for typifying brand personalities and projecting their values in stories.

We use Carl Jung’s archetypes as a way to model a brand personality that reflects the real values and beliefs of a business. Among these Jungian prototypes of the human psyche, the creator archetype is one of most interesting. This is the personality that wants to contribute to the world through its creativity—a trait that companies connected to innovation, imagination and ingenuity often want to associate with through their stories. We’ve constructed many stories for businesses that embody this archetype. The creator archetype is special to us as a business because it’s one of the two primary archetypes shaping Public Works.

When Carl Jung identified the creator archetype first, it was coined as ‘the artist’. We prefer to use the term ‘creator’ as it includes the whole spectrum of creative minds. “Who looks outside and dreams; who looks inside and awakes”, Jung wrote, explaining the way the creative minds work.

The T-shirt series we produced depicted three iconic creators who represented the power of the human imagination. Screen-printed entirely by hand, this limited edition T-shirt series featured the extraordinary woman Mirra Alfassa who created Auroville, Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore and, of course, the psychoanalyst that dared to tread the line between scientist and artist—Carl Jung.

This T-shirt series triggered many conversations and people were curious to learn more about these personalities and what stands out about their creativity; Through that, they connected with Public Works at a more profound level with shared values like imagination and innovation, instead of just seeing our company name and logo. It’s equivalent to remembering a person through a deep and meaningful conversation and not just as a face with a name.

We now use this series to show our clients how branded merchandise can be much more interesting than just a T-shirt with a logo. Great merchandise uses elements, ideas, events or people that connect the consumers to the core of a brand; they have greater potential to create more conversation that connects to the values of a business.

We think there’s always room to bring good storytelling into branded merch. If you’re thinking about getting merchandise that tells your brand’s story in a more imaginative way, ask us how.


Our monthly stories are productions looking to connect people to the magic of stories.

We create supplementary reading lists as a way to give you an insight into the inspirations and thinking behind our monthly stories. These reading lists take you behind the story, revealing the process of its making.



Rasa → Hāsyam (हास्यं): Laughter, mirth, comedy. Presiding deity: Shiva. Colour: white, Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Presiding deity: Brahma. Colour: yellow





This story was created with the central character Leela who embodies the shadow side of the rebel archetype. Among the archetypes presented in Carl Jung’s theory of psychoanalysis, the rebel is the one fearlessly heralding change. Also known as the revolutionary, the reformer, the misfit, the maverick and the free spirit, the light side of the rebel archetype is at the frontlines of all historic movements that led to better and fairer distribution of liberty and rights. The rebel archetype is inspiring—moving mountains, facing hard truths head-on and leading to progress that benefits generations; But, in its shadow, this archetype can be tremendously frustrating as troublemakers, provocateurs, and downright outlaws who pointlessly rebel without a cause.

The aesthetic flavor that we chose from the Rasa Theory for this story is comic or hāsya. A secondary rasa was brought in to give the story more dimension and to also work in the most popular mood voted in by our subscribers—adbūtha, or wonder.

In this reading list, you’ll find stories, events, films, and research that connects to the rebel archetype from Jungian psychology and the aesthetic flavor of hāsya.

  • 1940, The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin. Charles Chaplin Film Corporation. This iconic movie, released during the years leading up to WW2, struck a chord with many. It carried an important message with Chaplin’s characteristic humor and great writing.

  • 1996, Trainspotting. D. Boyle based on a novel by Irvine Welsh. Channel Four Films, Figment Films, Noel Gay Motion Picture Company. In this memorable scene Mark Renton, played by Ewan Mcgregor, rages on being Scottish with funny and unforgettable wit.

  • Batalanda detention centre was an alleged detention center in Sri Lanka used to torture and exterminate people leading dissent, particularly of the janatha vimukthi peramuna (JVP) during uprising of 1988–1989. The detention center was said to be run by counter-subversive units of the police who were tasked with destroying rebels.

  • The Matale rebellion, also known as the Rebellion of 1848, took place in Sri Lanka against the British colonial government. It marked a transition from the classic feudal form of anti-colonial revolt to modern independence struggles. It was fundamentally a peasant revolt that led to significant changes in how the British ruled Sri Lanka.

  • An article that first appeared as a pamphlet issued in September 1953 by the Lanka Sama Samaja Party of Ceylon. Its author, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva was considered to be one of Asia’s finest orators. Among his published works are a well-known two-volume history, Ceylon Under the British Occupation, 1795-1833, and An Outline of the Permanent Revolution (January 1955)— a basic Marxist training manual.

  • Ashta Bhairavas are eight manifestations of the Hindu divine symbol for time, and change. Their ferocious iconography embodies the merciless nature of time which brings an end to all rules, systems and beliefs made by humans.

  • Orabi Pasha was a famous Egyptian nationalist and military leader exiled to Sri Lanka from 1883 - 1901. Orabi led a national revolt against the injustices of the Turkish ruler Fewfik, who called on the British to protect him. The Egyptians under Orabi fought against the British troops who entered Cairo and occupied Egypt for 70 years. Orabi was arrested and exiled for life in Sri Lanka.

  • Richard de Zoysa was a well-known Sri Lankan journalist, author, human rights activist and actor, who was abducted and murdered on 18 February 1990. His murder caused widespread outrage inside the country, and is widely believed to have been carried out by a death squad linked to elements within the government.

  • The caricatures of Gaganendranath Tagore, an artist of rare talent, stand out as satirical commentaries on emerging classes, religious systems, and society in general. Gaganendranath experimented with many styles throughout his life. Picking elements from Japanese brushwork to cubism, but always filtering them through his own take, Gaganendranath Tagore’s humorous caricatures suggest a refusal of affiliation.

>> Read the previous reading list