grass for mat weaving CAMBODIA UNCOVERED

See Khmer Traditions


Traditional Khmer Mat Weaving

Khmer are famous for their mats. Each family always have mats that are used for many purposes: sleeping on instead of a mattress, sitting on when guests come to visit, praying at the temple. When Khmer have to stay in hospital, they always take a mat to put on the hospital bed. Without the mat, the Khmer don't feel comfortable

We offer trips to villages along the Mekhong where many households are involved in mat weaving. It is their cottage industry and provides them with much needed income to supplement their rice harvest. Both adults and children are involved in the process. The grass is grown during the dry season months in much the same way as rice is grown i.e. seeds are first planted - often in their front yard and when seedlings are tall enough, they are transplanted. They grow the plants in clumps just like they grow their rice. After a few months, they are harvested, washed, flowers are trimmed and then the stork is sliced into 5 pieces. The four outer slices are dried and used for the mat and the inner, softer core of the plant is used in place of string to bind together vegetables, flowers or other goods. All sliced pieces are left to dry in the sun before the outer slices are dyed - usually in bright and bold colours. The process until this time takes quite a few months. From there on, the mat weaving then begins with 2 people involved in the mat weaving.

Looms are set up on the floor under the house. One person threads the dyed pieces whilst the other controls the pattern and the tightness of the weave. The villages each have their own unique design and colours. You can watch the villagers transplant, cut and prepare the grass depending on the time of the year but weaving is often done all year round by families who have grown enough grass to keep them busy for the entire year. The best time to see the entire process of weaving is from January to May however weaving is possible all year round and some houses may still be dyeing throughout the year

These trips are usually combined with a walk through the village and other things of interest such as spirit houses, stupas and various plants pointed out by Souen. Guests can visit a temple as well as village homes for a bird's eye view of life in a Cambodian village. Generally these villages are visited during boat trips however it is possible to also visit these villages by road

There are other types of mats also made - from grass, rattan and other natural products. Cambodia Uncovered can organise textile and handicraft tours for those interested in these art forms. See textile tours for more information


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