The National Museum of Cambodia welcomed a colourful addition to its collection. Forty-one examples of silk pidan, a vibrant type of silk cloth, were received, each adorned with intricate designs and often used in Cambodian and Khmer weddings, funerals, and Buddhist ceremonies.
These pidan are decorated with images reflecting Cambodian culture, including wats, nagas, apsaras, scenes from the life of Buddha, the famed Angkor Wat, animals such as elephants, and various plants.
The beautiful pieces were bestowed upon the museum by Japan’s pidan silk weaving group on August 8. This team, led by Yonekura Yukiko and Miyamoto Kazuko, has bequeathed silk to the Cambodian museum once before.
“In 2000, the group gave 25 silks to the museum. Now, this new collection of 41 silk pidan represents the rich heritage of Cambodian Khmer weaving from the past century,” the national museum announced in a social media post.
According to the museum, the Japanese team’s intention was not merely to preserve these silks, but also to celebrate and publicise the luxury of Khmer silk weaving.
The decorative styles on the silks tell a rich story, reflecting daily activities, beliefs, and practices in Khmer culture, as well as narratives related to the story of Buddha.
“The Japanese team wants anyone interested in the various forms and styles of Khmer pidan to be able to view them directly at the national museum. If you’re curious, simply get in touch with the museum’s team, and you can see these beautiful silks without delay,” the social media post further explained.
The director of the National Museum of Cambodia, Chhay Visoth, recalled that this same Japanese team had previously provided 25 silks, which were exhibited at different places between 2011 and 2014.
The museum’s collection also includes silks from an Australian collector, who purchased the items in 1970 and later thought of returning them to their place of origin.
Visoth also shared that the museum has received silks from weavers across the country, as well as purchased them from various artisans.
Tragically, more than 600 silks were preserved at the museum before the Khmer Rouge era, and over half were lost after the war.
“To protect and preserve the silk collection, the museum intends to purchase sacred silks that have a unique style. This will be advantageous in the future,” said Visoth, emphasising that these particular silks are natural and have not been dyed using chemicals.
He further expressed the museum’s intention to make these silks a permanent exhibition, along with interpretive gallery signage for the public.
This significant addition to the museum’s collection is a fitting tribute to the rich heritage of Cambodian Khmer weaving, preserving both its beauty and cultural significance for future generations.