The Jack Daulton Collection
Antique & Ethnographic Art

Antique Cambodian Pidan with Inscription

pidan (a temple-hanging consisting of a large rectangular panel of handwoven silk decorated with Buddhist themes)


silk cloth consisting of uneven twill groundweave patterned with resist-dyed weft thread (a technique known as hol in Cambodia, as ikat elsewhere)


L 12ft. 8in.  W 3ft. 1in. (detail only shown)




age uncertain, perhaps first half of 20th century (c.1930-1940)


condition: very good, aside from one or two tiny holes


Inv. no. 11

Superb example of a rare pidan of extraordinary size with ikat-woven inscription in Khmer language.


Subject matter: The Vessantara Jataka (the story of the Buddha’s most recent past life, as a prince who teaches the virtue of giving by parting with everything, even his wife and children)


Central field:  six repeats of a motif consisting of four horizontal registers


First register (from top):


-- Khmer script (probably the name of the donor)

-- Prince Vessantara (the Buddha of the current era in his most-recent previous life) on a white horse, accompanied by an apsara (heavenly dancer)


Second register:


--  two pavilions, one with three figures peering out of niches, probably representing Prince Vessantara’s wife, Maddhi, and their two children; the other pavilion with one figure in a central niche, probably representing Prince Vessantara


Third register:


--  the Brahman priest leading away Prince Vessantara’s two children


Fourth register:


--  Prince Vessantara’s wife, Maddhi, in the forest surrounded by tigers and other wild animals; her carrying baskets, for collecting berries, are beside her; the white elephants given away by her husband are above her




Gillian Green, Traditional Textiles of Cambodia: Cultural Threads and Material Heritage (Chicago: Buppha Press, 2003), pp. 222-234.

overall view: