Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Connecting the threads of kingdoms past



Connecting the threads of kingdoms past

The artist Chan Dany with one of his sampot pieces.
The artist Chan Dany with one of his sampot pieces. Eliah Lillis

Connecting the threads of kingdoms past

For years now, artist Chan Dany has devoted himself to an unusual subject: sampot, the traditional Cambodian textile worn since at least the Angkorian era.

Depicted on the bas-reliefs of Angkor Wat, and still worn today during weddings, funerals and other ceremonies, for Dany, sampot is a thread connecting the ancient and the modern. His work is a celebration of this continuity. On display at the Lotus Pond Art Gallery, this is the fourth installment of his Sampot series, the idea for which was planted years ago when the artist would observe his mother wearing traditional clothes.

“I bought different forms and colours of stickers, and sometimes I bought materials from other countries to add decorative ornaments, like kbach and fabric wrapping with the desired silk patterns,” he says, referring to the ornate decorative style seen in Angkorian carvings.

Using watercolors, plastic and sewed patterns on cloth, Dany’s work is a pastiche of styles all incorporating the traditional designs of sampot.

In the 13 pieces on display, Dany uses three different styles. The first employs colouring stickers, the second is painted on fabric, and the last incorporates a mix of sewed patterns and gems on plastic.

Dany’s mission is to inform and promote understanding – especially among women – of sampot and to promote their use at events such as Khmer New Year and Pchum Ben.

“Not many people wear sampot right now, and I saw a lot of garments which had been thrown away,” he said. “So I collect those to sew and paint them to make artwork.

”It was an arduous task. The project has occupied the Prey Veng-born artist for the past two years.

“I don’t have new artwork until this year, because I took a lot of time to make this series,” he said.

A miniature version of his Sampot Civilise show debuted last month in Paris alongside two other artists. During the exhibition, the works will be on sale and range from $1,200 to $4,500.

“I want to preserve the Khmer identity of sampot for the next generation, while Asian countries are identifying the symbols within their traditions,” he said.

“The attention to social changes and cultural projections of personal identity can be sensed in Sampot Civilisé.” While the sampot is a personal and cultural statement, for Dany it is also about style and aesthetics. “I do hope that people, especially women, will come to support this exhibition– because the women wear sampot the best,” he said.

Sampot Civilise will be on display for three months from January to March at the Lotus Pond Art Gallery, The Plantation Urban Resort & Spa. Contact the artist at 069 999 484. Free entrance

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting