Banteay Srei: Citadel of the Women - “Citadel of Beauty”
Interestingly, this is the most important picture taken before we developed our most successful line of original Saraye ‘Tatami Style’ purses and some of these original makers are still with us today.
More than 20 years ago in 2001, our purse makers were just starting to develop a new purse style for Baskets of Cambodia. Here in this photo, we took our first group of purse makers on a much-needed vacation to the fabulous temple of Banteay Srei, (built circa 967 AD) about 30 miles from the famous Angkor Watt temple complexes. The beautiful carvings within were also an inspiration for creating art and not just touristy items.
This Hindu temple was originally dedicated to the god Shiva. Originally Hindu, over the centuries Buddhism has prevailed. This temple Benteay Srei was made exclusively for women using a rare type of red sandstone and is one of the few temples with an entry hall dedicated to female traditional dancing.
When we visited this temple, we were mostly alone. Today it is visited by over a million visitors annually as Angkor Watt has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
For this trip our purses came from our first location on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, about an 8-hour drive by bus - BUT our ‘Royal Line’ basketry was our first venture in Cambodia and Baskets of Cambodia also has helped preserve and develop the finest basketry in Cambodia. Our basket makers are all located close to the main temples of Angkor Watt and we have come to believe that the inspiration for much of this basketry originated in service to these temples. Today they are used in many Buddhist offerings.
Even from these humble beginnings, one can appreciate the profound authenticity of our cherished artisans who have helped BOC ever so much since. Within 2 years, our baskets would be featured in the movie “The Last Samurai” and our unique purse line was well on its way to becoming popular across the USA, standing on its own as a ‘purse like no others’, and originating from makers who are profoundly respected for their skill and character.
Pearl River Mart
We discovered Basket of Cambodia about 13 years ago at New York Gift Show, it's called "NOW" now a days. At that time the show was very very big and it's quite a hassle to be selected as an exhibitor, I remembered seeing Basket of Cambodia in "Handmade" or some special section. I was impressed by their display and uniqueness, also the good quality. I don't remember seeing another vendor carrying goods from Cambodia in this kind of scale and quality even today.
Pearl River has been in business for 47 years, we have seen many importers come and go, very few like Basket of Cambodia, being sustainable and keep the authenticity and quality. This must be a company who is more than a business.
Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden