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

 

L 9ft. 8 ¾ in.   W 2ft. 9 ½ in. (detail only shown)

 

Cambodia

 

age uncertain, perhaps first half of 20th century

 

condition: good

 

provenance:  collected in Cambodia by Jack Daulton

 

Inv. no. 16


Subject matter: The Vessantara Jataka (the story of the Buddha’s most recent past life)

 

In the middle of the central field is a large temple or pavilion with a figure appearing in each of three niches (representing Prince Vessantara’s wife Madhi and their two children).  Below this structure is a depiction of Madhi confronted by two wild animals (tigers?) in the forest; her carrying baskets for collecting berries appear on either side of her head.

 

To the right and left of the large temple or pavilion in the middle of the central field is an image of the Buddha in the earth-touching hand position (bhumisparsa mudra, symbolizing the moment of his Enlightenment) seated under the bodhi tree; below him is a row of kneeling adorants.  Beyond the Buddha image is a pole or standard supporting a hamsa bird which holds in its beak a long crocodile banner.  Beyond the banner is a section of the field in which a stupa, temple, or other structure appears in the lower portion; above the structure are figures, including, among others, a horizontal row of four apsaras (heavenly dancers) at the top, hovering just above a woven inscription consisting of six characters in the Khmer language (probably the name of the donor of the pidan).

 

 

References:

 

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

 

See also: Bernard Dupaigne, “Weaving in Cambodia,” Through the Thread of Time: Southeast Asia Textiles, ed. Jane Puranananda (Bangkok: River Books, 2004), p. 29.  Dupaigne proposes another, probably erroneous, interpretation of the motif consisting of the pavilion with three figures: he asserts that the motif represents Siddhartha Gautama (the future Buddha) in his palace, flanked by his wife, Princess Yasodhara, and his son Rahula.

Inv. no. 16 is the virtually-identical companion piece to Inv. no. 15(Cambodian pidan 5, above).  Both of them were acquired from the same source in Cambodia; and they obviously were produced by the same workshop.