Saturday, July 05, 2008

Artisans Angkor

2 June 2008 @ Siem Reap, Cambodia

It wasn't in our initial plan at all. We just bumped into Artisans Angkor's signboard and thought that we might want to take a look at it. Anyway, it's just nearby inside the town.

The place is like a vocational school for the young Cambodians. They provide training in stone carving, wood carving, lacquering, gilding and silk processing. Most of the final products from the workshop are similar to the carvings at the Angkor temples.

There're many processes to turn a piece of wood into the final product like the picture below. Carving, lacquering, touching. Yes, touching and rubbing it makes it shine, like the body of the people kneeling down.

On some of the carvings, the craftsmen stick golden copper leaves onto specific parts of it. Like the one at the bottom, golden copper leaves were pasted onto the two horses to highlight their presence on the carving. It's the gilding process.

Then we move on to the silk painting section. All the painters here deaf and yet the come out with marvelous masterpieces. I guess you'll be more concentrated when you have one less thing to worry about - noise. According to our guide, they have to learn sign language first before getting a hand in silk painting.

Then we see the process of colouring and lacquering on statues and carvings. Again, the golden leaves are being used here. See how they make newly made products look so old [like the Buddha head statues].

There used to be different types of stones that can be carved but now, only one type of sand stone can be used for carving by these people. Not that they don't have the skills to carve other stones, they're not allowed to use them, it's against the law.

The carvers will carve according to the cement model provided to them and they will use an outside caliper so that the thing they made are of the same size as the model. This is to make sure all the products being carved are same size and not out of shape.

Lastly, the wood carving section. It's deemed to be more difficult to carve on wood than on stone. Why you'd ask. Wood need to be dried thoroughly before carving begins and wood cracks easily if you're not careful with it. If it cracks, it's gone.

Just like stone carving, their final product ranges from 10cm tall elephant statues to 2m tall Buddha statues. The statues like the one below takes about 2 months to complete with two person working on it.

It's amazing to see how these people produce beautiful art from wood and stone with just simple tools they have. If you want to see the process with your own eyes, you can look for the sign near old market of Siem Reap. Entrance fee is free and personal guide is provided. We gave our guide some tips for being so informative. [first time on the tips though]. Billy, out.

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Next post: First Meal in Cambodia


Daryl Teo said...

Thanks for the great write & pics. Am doing a write on Angkor too, not easy...haha....all the temples & stuff and its rich history. Cheerio!

Billy said...

[daryl teo]
thanks for dropping by. It sure ain't easy to write about these ancient stuffs. Gotta read a lot before I started typing. =)

Daryl Teo said...

yeah dude.....try making sense of the pics if u didn't tag it properly. Even after the 3rd day there all the temples start to look the same...hehe...temple fatigue!

Billy said...

[daryl teo]
Yea, when I look at the pictures now, it all looks the same to me. HAHA!
It's a good thing we put Angkor Wat on the third day so we won't waste the 3-day ticket for all the temple fatigue. =P

Daryl Teo said...

Haha...have fun bro! Today i'm taking it easy...try to stay away from anything too mentally taxing! Cheers!

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