Khmer Arts, Past and Present

Stone sculpture

900 years ago:

Angkor Wat’s bas-relief Churning of the Sea of Milk – 12th cent.
Courtesy: Michael Freeman, “Ancient Angkor” – 2008


Jaya-varman VII - 2009
The same gentle and peaceful expression…

Mr. Smoun Smien, sculptor, Siem Reap

Mr. Smoun Smien, a landmine victim, is an accomplished stone carver specializing in large Buddhist sculptures.
His works can be seen at the Khmer Angkor Art Workshop in Siem Reap where he is also training a younger generation of Cambodian sculptors.
Mr. Smoun is proudly perpetuating the Angkorian era stone carving mastery.


Apsara dance dates from the foundation of the Angkor era and was exclusively a function of the court.
There were 3,000 Apsara dancers in the 12th century court of King Jaya-varman VII.
They lived at the Royal Palace and performed at the king’s pleasure, for visiting dignitaries and royal rituals.

Apsara carving – 12th cent.
Angkor Wat

Apsara drawing – 1906
Auguste Rodin
Courtesy: Cambodia National

Apsara dancer – 2009
the same grace and exquisite
hand gestures


The history of Golden Silk stretches back to the Angkor period.
This original specie of silkworm, called "Camboujou", is unique to Cambodia and derives its name from the beautiful golden color of their cocoons.

This high-quality silk, intricately patterned and dyed, was reserved for royal ceremonies, formal clothing and pictorial tapestries (pidan).
It was also used for the traditional costumes worn by the Apsara dancers of that era, as can be seen on the exquisite carvings that adorn the walls of Angkor Wat.

This highly skilled craft continues today in various provinces of Cambodia,including here in Siem Reap.
The whole process, from planting and growing mulberry trees, raising the silkworms and using the same hand-weaving techniques and natural dyes as in the Angkorian era can be seen at various silk centers around the city.

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