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This very attractive lacquer painting of umbrellas shows the style of umbrella that is depicted on many of the bas-reliefs to be found in the old Angkor temples. They are ornate and stylized umbrellas of the type used to shade kings, royalty and important personages. The picture is in red and black lacquer with copper leaf.
Angkor in Cambodia is blessed with a number of magnificent old temples, such as the East Mebon temple from the 10th century, the Angkor Wat temple complex from the 12th century, and the Bayon from the 12th to 13th centuries. Many stone carvings can be found in them, and a number of well preserved bas-reliefs. In these we often find depictions of highly-placed people, and can have an idea of their importance in society by the number of umbrellas being held over them. In the battle scenes, a sign of the ruler’s defeat is the breaking of his umbrella shaft.
The base, which is wood, has been coated in several layers of black and red paint to create a framed style for the painting. The detail is given by the very delicate and painstaking application of copper leaf, requiring time and great precision. A further coat of clear lacquer preserves and hardens the finished product.