The Reamker

Collection Name: Drachen Foundation Collection
Artist or Author: Chet Chan -painted by
Creation Year: 2002
Width: 0.00
Length: 0.00
Height: 0.00
Summary: Language: English Description: This book, and its accompanying exhibition, grew out of our feeling that forms of traditional painting were no longer being remembered or passed down to the younger generation. In Cambodia, painting once found its meaning within the social context of Buddhist monasteries and royal courts. As in many traditional arts, the transmission of ways of painting in these settings occurred through apprenticeship, with a master passing down knowledge to youth living and working around him or her. Today such structures of transmission, and the institutional settings which fostered them, are breaking down, just as many of the customs which made use of the images and objects produced within such craft traditions are fading away. Given this state of affairs, it is likely that the set of skills and the bodies of knowledge developed by painters over the centuries will not endure in a modern society. One can argue that if a set of practices is no longer relevant to living culture, then they should be allowed to quietly pass away. Still we think that past practices of painting formed both a system of knowledge and a part of what defines Khmer culture. For this reason, we have decided to document one master's version of one aspect of Khmer traditional painting. Because we wished for this book to appeal both to local students and to international visitors, we have tried to balance general information with more detailed analysis. For readers not familiar with the story of the Reamker, we open our book with an edited version of the narrative written in the early 20th century by Thiounn, then Minister of the Royal Palace. Thiounn apparently based his text on the Royal Palace murals which had just been completed when he began writing. His narrative therefore represents a textual version of the story which is particularly closely tied to a painted representation. In the second section of our book, we present a selected set of individual characters from the Reamker, chosen and painted by Chet Chan who was trained in traditional painting at the School of Fine Arts (Phnom Penh) in the early 1960's. We asked Chet Chan simply to paint the characters as he saw fit, adding short descriptions of their representation which may or may not agree with the details of Thiounn's text. In an accompanying essay, we try to analyse the process of observing, comparing, and recognising characters in order to draw some possible conclusions about the ways in which characters are represented in traditional painting. The final section of our book offers a photo essay which details the process by which Chet Chan paints one of his paintings. 153 pgs
Type: Book
Geographic: Cambodia
Materials: Paper
Images (click to open in viewer):
The Reamker The Reamker