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Collection

An image of meditation cloth by

Sam Nuea, Laos

Title
meditation cloth
Other titles:
End panel of a phaa biang cloth (shawl)
Place of origin
Sam NueaLaos
Cultural origin
Tai Nuea people
Year
20th century
Media category
Textile
Materials used
silk, cotton, dyes; supplementary weft weave
Dimensions

38.0 x 67.0 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Credit
Bequest of Alex Biancardi 2000
Accession number
284.2000
Copyright
© Copyright reserved
Location
Not on display
Further information

This textile has red warp and weft yarns, cream continuous supplementary weft yarns, and multi-coloured discontinuous supplementary weft yarns. Cloths like this form part of a scarf made in several sections that are replaced as they wear out. These textiles have a number of functions, including as shoulder cloths (phaa phai), a cloth to wrap women's shoulders and torsos (phaa biang), head wraps (phaa khan soeng), and for healing practices (phaa sabai). Besides the central lozenge-shaped motif (kaap khoam), there are half-line hooks (dork khor), eight-pointed stars or flowers, and triangle forms, all of which are composed of supplementary weft threads. Kaap khoam means lantern. The pattern not only symbolises light, but Buddhists consider it to be the opening of the third eye bringing knowledge and enlightenment. This is probably a remnant of Mahayana and Tantric Buddhist ideas and is evidence of their earlier presence in Southeast Asia. Phaa biang are composed of several sections, and as sections become worn, they are replaced with new weavings. This is probably one such replacement.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, December 2011