Introduction to Southeast Asian Relief Sculpture & Dress and Textile Representation in Southeast Asia


About Introduction to Southeast Asian Relief Sculpture

What is relief sculpture and where may we find them? Using examples from our rich Southeast Asian past up until the arrival of Islam, this lecture presents an overview of the characteristics that distinguish reliefs from other types of art, and the role that the natural and built environments play in the production and appreciation of reliefs. Techniques of relief-making will also be identified, and, while most artistic output can be described as decorative, different types of reliefs serve different purposes. But more than just ornamental or functional, reliefs can also be extremely informative. Some of the ways historians and archaeologists employ the study of reliefs to gain new knowledge will be explored, especially useful with cultures that have oral traditions or whose writings were not made on permanent remains. The lecture will discuss various methods of tracing origins and the circulation of ideas, determining the chronology of undated sites and objects, and even inferring certain unspoken social practices and attitudes, in order to reveal aspects of the past that have been lost to time.

About Dress and Textile Representation in Southeast Asia

Organic materials such as textile and wood are vulnerable and do not survive well in the tropical climate of Southeast Asia. Are some evidence available from the early historical period? Despite the dearth of actual textiles remain, imprints of textiles can be found on sculptures and temple reliefs; many of them can be linked to materials preserved outside Southeast Asia. This lecture will provide an overview of the ancient maritime trade routes that were responsible for the circulation of these textiles. It will explore some visual evidence on sculptures that provide clues to the style of dress and patterns popular in different periods, and conversely, dress and patterns that can be used to date sculptures that may have lost their original context. Finally, this lecture will discuss the role of textiles in Southeast Asia as political currency, how they establish cultural identity, and the evolution of textile technique as local responses to prestigious trade textiles.

For more information on the webinar series, click here.

About the Speakers

Dr Natalie S.Y. Ong recently completed her PhD in Southeast Asian Studies from the National University of Singapore examining the narrative bas-reliefs on the UNESCO monuments of Borobudur and Prambanan in Central Java. She previously completed her MA in Indic Cultures at the Université Paris III Sorbonne-Nouvelle, and since 2008 has worked extensively on many cultural projects in Singapore, including the creation in 2010 of the E-Museum of Southeast Asian Ceramics for the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society where she was also Secretary until 2013; the publication and exhibition Southeast Asian Ceramics: New Light on Old Pottery; curatorial work with the NUS Museum and Baba House; and as researcher for the Preservation of Monuments Board, National Heritage Board.

Dr Sandra Sardjono is Founder and President of the Tracing Patterns Foundation, a nonprofit organisation that promotes textile study and indigenous scholarships. Her main research interest is the transmission of textile patterns and weaving technologies in Southeast Asia. She earned her doctorate in art history from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2017 with a thesis Tracing Patterns of Textiles in Ancient Java (8th-15th century). In 2012-2015, she was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. She has worked as Assistant Curator of Costume and Textiles at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and as Textile Conservator at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York.


This webinar will be delivered online entirely. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.

Please register here to receive your unique link for joining the webinar.

Limited spaces only, register early to avoid disappointment.

To join the webinar,
1. Install the Zoom client onto your computer or download the app on your mobile device.
2. Click on the unique link in your email.

If you have questions for the panellists, please key in your questions via the Q&A, stating your name and affiliation. The moderator will field them to the panellist during the Q&A session.


Aug 04 2021


3:00 pm - 4:30 pm