100% Cambodian, Krama weaving, a heritage of the Khmer Kingdom, is a subtle art that tends to be discovered.
Traditional Cambodian know-how
Symbol for the Khmer people and Cambodian pride, the traditional Krama with blue or red check is a stole woven with a wooden loom in the province of Kampong Cham, made from cotton (named Samley). There are also variations in silk, especially in the province of Takeo.
While traditionally cotton was spun by hand and then left to soak in rice before being dyed naturally until the desired color was obtained, chemical dyes are now preferred for a wider range of colors. The natural dyes come from leaves, tree barks (red), or even boiled fruits (ginger) which bring these ocher or indigo tones to the fabric and make this heritage a sustainable and eco-responsible product.
Krama Baseth, known for its characteristic red color, is made from a local plant called 'Thleah'.
A game of patience and rigor, the design of a one meter seventy Krama requires a minimum of eight hours and ensures an important economic role, especially in the countryside.
The silk Krama is favored for weddings, special occasions and coveted by wealthy Cambodians to stand out from the peasants while its cotton sidekick is a daily essential used by all.
A diverse and varied use
Krama plays multiple roles in everyday life and it is also found in countless improvised situations.
Indeed, worn around the neck as in the West, it is also a precious instrument of protection against the scorching sun of the afternoon when it is rolled up on the head. We cover our mouths to protect ourselves from dust and exhaust pipes while riding and we even use it to repair bicycle tires.
A loyal sturdy companion, it is made a complementary seat for babies, children appropriate it to play “Cha-Ol-ong” prison ball, and it is also transformed into a hammock, mosquito net and bedspread.
National pride, the Krama was the subject of a consecration in the book of records, when GoGo Cambodia decided to hand-weave a scarf 1000 meters long, exhibited at the National Museum in Phnom Penh.
A social and ethical memory
Are you looking for a useful and unique traditional gift on your next trip to the land of smiles? The Krama is your solution.
Available in country villages directly from private individuals, Krama is also mainly sold on various provincial and city markets between $ 1 and $ 5 depending on the size (and the art of negotiation).
Far away, you can always ask an expatriate to bring you some, or order online on certain sites.
The Krama is also a popular object for photographers and painters, like the traveling artist André-Louis Becht, who proposed a series of paintings on this theme in 2017.
Photo source: Mathilde VASSEUR - Photographer