Want to make a Cambodian dress? Take a peak into the traditional Cambodian wardrobe and the skilful way they make and wear their garments.
The general dress up of the Cambodian people is modest in nature. You will find the masses to be casually dressed down unless going to a formal gathering or event. The average Cambodian will be sporting a short sleeved shirt made out of wonderfully light cotton. The wealthier lot can be seen wearing shirts of silk that are coupled with cotton trousers.
The Cambodian women also dress in a rather loose fitting garment. The traditional sarong accompanies the woman wherever she goes. This is a large piece of cloth that is worn around the waist. It is known as sampot in the local lingo. The sampot acts as a multipurpose garment when it is coupled with the embroidered krama.
The krama is a unique element of Cambodian dress for women. It is primarily used to protect one self against the sun, wind and dust but at the same time it is a fashion statement in its own right. The use of the krama is particularly prevalent amongst the people of the rural areas. The sarong comes in many different forms and is even used as a towel. You will also find some mothers creatively tying a sarong to their baby’s carriage.
The Krama is truly one of the identity forming garments of the Khmer tradition. This is the garment that differentiates between those of Khmer origins from those of Thai or Vietnamese origins.
The national Cambodian dress however is the Sampot. This is a unique garment that intrigues many people. It is very similar to what you would find in the neighboring countries of Thailand and Laos. There are however certain specific details which separate the sampot of the different nations.
The origins of Cambodia’s national garment
The origins of the sampot can be traced back to the first century BC when the Funan dynasty reigned Cambodia. It was during these days that the wearing of the sampot was actually made compulsory by the order of the king.
The women of Cambodia developed a nag for skillfully weaving intricate designs onto the sampot. The garment thus became a medium of artistic expression for the Cambodian women. After the women had worked their weaving wonders on the garment it was sent into the dying process which produced amazing results.
The Cambodians are particularly famous for the uneven twill technique that they developed. This is a rather difficult method to master but nonetheless remains as one of the unique attributes of the sampot weavers.
A variation of the sampot that is commonly used by the women of higher status today is known by the name of chang khen. This is used by women for daily wear but the influence of foreign cultures has limited the use of the traditional dress in its entirety.