June links

There have been a flurry of interesting small articles I’ve come across lately, which means it’s time for another link dump!


-Every now and then there’s a new article about magical Khmer tattoos and here’s another.  However, it is also interesting to hear that Thailand is cracking down on foreigners getting religious tattoos:

Citing a survey in Phuket Island, Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombat admitted that a number of foreigners coming to Thailand are interested in having their skin tattooed with Buddha images or Hindu god Ganesh in several parts of their bodies such as arms, legs, ankles or chests.

The minister indicated that using religious objects as tattoo patterns is inappropriate according to the Thai tradition and culture as well as affect the faith of people toward those religions. 

He probably has a point there, but I don’t necessarily see this practice ending any time soon.


-There is an interesting RFA video on traditional Krama-weaving in Mondulkiri province.  Even if you don’t speak Khmer it’s neat to see them weaving scarves using a pretty simple lap loom.  Weaving cloth was probably an important part of the ancient Southeast Asian economy (there’s fairly strong evidence for cloth weaving at Ban Non Wat in Thailand).  However, you can see here that most of the materials used are organic (bamboo etc) and would probably degrade in the archaeological record, so we know less about this than other craft techniques, like ceramic production.

-Speaking of which, there’s a new  article on the movement of iron and cloth across the Bay of Bengal in the latest edition of Antiquity that looks interesting. Unfortunately, our library doesn’t get digital copies of this so I’ll have to check out the hardcopy.

-Actually, that whole issue of Antiquity (June 2011) has several articles on Southeast Asia, including a few in honor of Peter Bellwood.


-I’ve discussed the problems of looting in Cambodia before.  However, in addition to looking for ancient artifacts, there is also quite a bit of hole-digging looking for mysterious (mythical) Khmer Rouge treasures.

Rumours of buried treasure have long been circulated in rural Cambodia since the fall of the Khmer Rouge, who abolished money and even blew up the country’s central bank after they took power in 1975, forcing soldiers and civilians alike to stow away their wealth…..

“From my observation, the group will come back to dig for the treasure one day in the future, because they still think the treasure is there,” he said.

Everybody likes easy money.

-Lastly, my friend Damien is shifting the focus of his looting/antiquities blog.  He’ll now be exploring additional questions regarding what drives trade of antiquities, how the antiquities trade in the Southern hemisphere differs from that in the North, the role of fakes in the antiquities market,how the collecting of “other people’s treasure” justified and other topics.  I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes!

2 responses to “June links

  1. Thanks for the plug, Alison. Much appreciated! I’m currently thinking about/working on the next post in the “other people’s treasure” series…investigating how this theme is used in marketing the sale of antiquities in Southern Hemisphere demand countries. Re the ongoing searching for rumored Khmer Rouge “treasure,” one can draw direct parallels to the hunt for “Yamashita’s Treasure” in the Philippines today, the subject of my most recent post. Unfortunately, the damage is the same. Let’s both keep up the good work!

  2. On a somewhat related note, I was just watching the new Sherlock Holmes mini-series on BBC America and they had a story about a Chinese smuggling ring that was smuggling Chinese antiquities to the British auction market: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/sherlock/blindbanker.html