A study of Khmer ornament

Opening Reception, March 31, 2005




Kbach, in Khmer language, can have many meanings. It can refer to a certain type of gesture in dance and theater (kbach robam) as well as a certain type of fighting technique in Khmer boxing (kbach kun). In this exhibition and publication we have chosen to focus mainly on the meaning of kbach as a way to name the variety of ornaments which decorate objects and architectural surfaces throughout Cambodia.

When Reyum began research on kbach nearly four years ago, our goal was to produce a simple manual for students, especially for those studying at the Royal University of Fine Arts. Like other aspects of Cambodian culture, kbach has been passed on from generation to generation through apprenticeship and oral tradition. We were concerned that this knowledge would wane without documentation.

Kbach: A Study of Khmer Ornament is an attempt to contribute to the understanding of a complex topic and much remains to be investigated. We hope our work will spur the desire of future generations to further explore the subject.

We would like to thank all the artists and professors who have contributed to this work. We also thank the Albert Kunstadter Family Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Japan Foundation Asia Center and the Toyota Foundation for their support.

We dedicate this exhibition and publication to Ingrid