What is Khmer Weaving?

Cambodia is well known as its art of traditional Khmer weaving.  The characteristics of Khmer silk ikat weaving is weft tie-dye and uneven twill groundweave. Those ikat patterns were passed on from mothers to daughters.   Weaving practice in many villages have been transmitted and alive in their lives.  But during the civil war from 1970 to early 1990, the skillful weavers who has the high traditional techniques of ikat weaving are drastically decreased.

Weaving is now popular in some communities in Takeo, Konpong Cham, Prey Veng, Siem Reap, Kandal and in Phnom Penh. The Cambodian silk fabric are divided into two groups.  The first group is silk ikat cloth, sampot hol and Pidan. The second group is Pamuang, plain colored twill woven cloth.  It is the cloth woven with warp and weft in different colors of dyed yarns. It has a luster like a jewel beetle, Kor Tia, color of duck neck in Khmer.

1) Sampot hol
The traditional silk weft ikat woven cloth for hip wrapper; sampot hol means ikat skirt in Khmer.  Usually it is made for traditional costume for wedding and Buddhist celebrations.  The motif  of the ikat patterns are flowers,natural animals, plants and geometrical patterns.  It is said that there are more than 200 patterns of sampot hol.  The pattern is consist of dot which minimum of 3 to 4 weft lines.  It usually has border patterns beside its main pattern, both sides for the old sampot hol or one side for the recent woven one.

2) Pidan
The pidan is very typical Khmer pictorial ikat silk cloth and is rare valued in the world.  It is uneven twill weave with 3 shafts and weft ikat.  The cloth is used for the wall hanging for ceremony as funeral and wedding.   The motif of pidan has religious meaning  as the story of Prince Siddharta and Prince Preaveah Sando.  It varies  as wat, apsara,elephant, naga, tree of life, birds and animals. The pidan of ship motif  was woven in the old days.

3)  Kroma and Sarong
They are plain weaving with cotton thread.  Cotton kroma is popular with checked patterns of blue and white or red and white.   It is used daily for many purposes as covering head for shade, wrapping baby, cloth as towel and many other purposes.   Sarong,Hip wrapper, is also woven with silk and cotton.