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Asian art

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Shawl or scarf ('phaa biang')

20th century


Unknown Artist


This shawl ('phaa biang') is woven with a banded design of white, yellow, blue and green supplementary weft weaving on a red silk ground. The ends are decorated with bands of highly stylised river dragons ('ngueak'), although more recently they have been called 'naak' (mythical serpent). The centre of the cloth is decorated with a pattern of stripes alternating with an eight-pointed star motif and half diamonds with stylised floral designs. The style of the piece indicates that it is a Muang Phuan type. Lao-Tai women wrap phaa biang cloths around one shoulder and the torso. These cloths are also used for healing practices ('phaa sabai'), as head wraps ('phaa khan soeng'), and as shoulder cloths ('phaa phai'). As a curative cloth, the textile was believed to be powerful enough to help the healing process through its combination of colours and motifs.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, December 2011


Other Title

shawl or scarf ('pha beang')

Place where the work was made

Champasak Province Laos


20th century

Media category


Materials used

silk, natural dyes; continuous supplementary weft decoration


50.5 x 166.7 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Bequest of Alex Biancardi 2000


Not on display

Accession number