Daulton 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)

 

Cambodia

 

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

 

Reference:

 

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

overall view: