Spinning and Weaving Styles of Cambodia

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Weaving and silk weaving in particular is part of Cambodian tradition. Like many countries in Southeast Asia and other countries in the world, Cambodian silk uses a type of ikat but there are also other types of silk and silk design. In addition to silk weavers mix silk with cotton. Today they use a cotton synthetic combination, but in the past they used pure cotton. The combination threads create a soft and durable cloth with its own special quality.

Spinning is very important to the end product of silk. This is a well constructed spindle. It is evenly round and solid. Its mechanical spinning handle is very important because it makes it easier to get an even thread.

Less sophisticated spinning also works but it gives a slightly uneven thread.

Training of spinners at the Siem Reap Center. Funded by Caisse Francaise du Development. The thread is spun to get an even texture.


Designs and Weaving

Weaving for temple hangings is an ancient custom. Weaving pidan, or temple hangings. The tecnique of weaving pidan is one of the most difficult of ikat weaving. As with all ikat the design is conceptualised and dyed into the thread before it is loaded onto the loom. Here is the story of a Khemara master weaver who trains Khemara's weavers. It is kindly shared with us from Carol Wagner's forth coming book,Loss and Recovery: The stories of women and children.

The plain pamoeng or plain silk is decorated with the raw silk, undyed. The raw silk will bleach with time and turn white. The plain pamoeng is also used with adornment for men's ceremonial dress.

Designs vary and show the influence of time spent by the master weavers on the Thai borders. Trainers from Thai weaving villages taught Cambodian refugees their traditions. Weaving cotton and silk to make an apsara scarf.

Sarong woven in Phnom Srok. Sarong are worn by men as casual home wear. The sarong is usually a bright checkered combination.

Khum Tnot Silk Weaving Center, Takeo. 50 kilometers south east of Phnom Penh. The silk they weave is recognisable for its delicate shapes. The Princess Marie, Patron of the Cambodian Silk Weaving Revitalisation project and Sochua Mu Lieper, look on as Khemara weavers spin the silk thread. The Princess wears a beautiful example of Takeo designs in high quality weaving.

Main Silk types by region and design


Kam Pong Cham Designs. Traditionally woven by women of the Cham minority. The Cham people are a minority in Cambodia who are distinguished by their religion, which is muslim.

Takeo designs for women are in typically softer colors . All these silk samples are examples of ikat weaving. This highly sophisticated weaving technique can be achieved on all these loom types. However, greatest consistency is arrived at by even tension throughout the loom. Silk Kroma Woven by Khemara weavers. These kroma show the influence of the Cham master weaver who taught the women to weave. The kroma is a typical Khmer cloth and the designs here are typical of the cham people.

To see the various designs click here.
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Last updated on March 1, 1996.
© 1996 Katharine Wardle