Apsara National Authority plans Khmer silk exhibition

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Women prepare Khmer silk products to be displayed at the Asian Traditional Textiles Museum in Siem Reap in February. ANA

Eleven Khmer silks will be exhibited at the Asian Traditional Textiles Museum in mid-February, according to a January 23 announcement by the Apsara National Authority (ANA).

In a social media post, the ANA said that collection of Khmer silks includes four silk towels and five sampots (long, traditional skirts) and two traditional looms. The items were donated by the Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles.

“The exhibition of these precious objects aims to preserve the art of woven silk and looms. The number of looms in use is declining at an alarming rate. This exhibition will give the public, students and domestic and international tourists a clear understanding of the artistic legacy that was left by our Khmer ancestors,” said the ANA.

Acting deputy director of the textiles museum Sen Kimsun said the tradition of silk weaving dates back to the Khmer Empire, but many beautiful examples were lost during the time of the Khmer Rouge regime. At present, there is less interest in the use of Khmer looms, resulting in a decline of woven silk products.

“Woven silk is different from modern silk as it has a unique hand-made beauty, and is sometimes related to religious beliefs. In ancient times, many ordinary people were barred from wearing silks of this quality,” he added.

He explained that they took a long time to weave. They require many man hours and only the purest silk could be employed. They were dyed using only natural ingredients and no chemicals.

ANA spokesman Long Kosal could not be reached for comment on January 23.

The Asian Traditional Textiles Museum is located in Boeung Donpa village, in Sla Kram commune of Siem reap town. The museum opened in 2014, and collaborates with five other countries along the Mekong and Ganges rivers: India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.