Cambodian Traditional Dress, Clothing & Costumes

Cambodian girls in traditional costumes

In the country of Angkor temples – Cambodia, there are two primary types of traditional costumes, including daily costumes and festive costumes. Their livelihoods mainly depend on fishing and farming; so they often choose to wear clothes that are comfortable and convenient for their works. Learning about Cambodia traditional dress is also a factor to make your Cambodian tours more enjoyable.

cambodian traditional dress

Introduction about Cambodia Traditional Dress

In tradition, Cambodian people wear a plaid scarf called “krama”. Krama is often made of natural materials such as cotton or silk and though it has been thousands of years, this clothing has not changed too much. Krama is worn around the heads or necks with the role of protecting people from the harmful sunlight as well as absorbing the sweat if they have to work under the heat of summer days. Interestingly, krama is also used as a hammock for infants, a towel, or a device to climb up trees, so on.

Cambodian Traditional dress, clothing, and costumes
Cambodian Traditional Dress

Contrary to the simple and convenient krama, the festive costumes of Cambodians are amazingly flashy, glamorous, and colorful. This costume is called Sampot. It appeared for a very long time ago, around Funan Era. when a Cambodian king ordered his subjects to wear sampot at the request of the Chinese envoy. Since this dynasty, silk weaving is an indispensable part of Cambodia’s longstanding culture. Sophisticated textile methods and subtle patterns are developed. In particular, Cambodians from this era possessed their own non-patterned cross-weaving techniques, although there is currently no clear explanation for the application of this technique. The silk sampot is used as an inheritance in every family, wedding, funerals, as well as for decoration in temples. Nowadays, this kind of clothing is still kept, created, and preserved as a national costume of Cambodia.

history of cambodian traditional dress

Characteristics of Cambodia Traditional Dress & Clothing

Cambodia traditional costume – Sampot is made from soft silk combining sophisticated knitting techniques to create exquisite pieces of fabric. It is a square long large cloth wrapped around the lower part of the body. It can also be draped and folded in many different ways, so each one brings a distinct beauty. Sampot is made of silk and often dyed in five basic colors, including red, yellow, green, blue, and black that are popular colors with Cambodian people. It is very meaningful and precious for them because Cambodian people have to spend a lot of time and effort in decorating sampot with gemstones and embroidery details.

history of cambodian traditional dress

Types of Cambodia Traditional Dress & Costumes

In Cambodia, class polarization occurs strongly. As a result, there are many different types of Sampot, and each type is worn by a certain class. In addition, there are Cambodia costumes for males and Cambodia costumes for females. The most typical and common type of Cambodian costume – sampot is named as a sarong. It is traditionally worn by both males and females of the low class. Sarong has a simple design with one a half meter piece of cloth sewn at the two ends and tied on the waist. The upper class in Cambodia wears more luxury and higher quality Sampot. They are called Sampot Phamuong and Sampot Hol which are all woven by the scrumptious silk type.

Cambodian traditional dress and clothing
Cambodian women wear traditional dress – Sampot

Sampot Phamuong is a very popular weaving fabric from Cambodia. At present, there are 52 different colors used on the Sampot Phamuong, even when the luxurious Sampot Phamuong models use up to 22 different needles to create, accompanied by countless paintings, flower, and leaf geometry. The best quality silk used by the Cambodians is the famous silken satin in the Kingdom of temple – Cambodia.

Sampot Hol is also one of the most famous traditional costumes in Cambodia with two basic types: one is a conventional dress and the other is cross-woven. The Sampot Hol style is influenced by the Indian patola fabrics and has undergone a period of development of patterns and knitwear that make up today’s subtle Hol fabrics. This type of sampot consists of 200 patterns with yellow, red, brown, blue, and green colors according to the motif of flowers and animals.

cambodian traditional clothing

In addition to the three popular types of sampot, there are other less popular sampot types, but still have their own distinctive features: Sampot Tep Apsara, Sampot Sâng, Sampot Chorabap, Sampot Sampot, Sampot Seai Sua, Sampot Lberk, Sampot Alorgn. Sampot is a noteworthy symbol of Cambodian handicraft, showing the richness in the material as well as spiritual life.

Although modern times are more progressive with a variety of costumes and materials, which are easier to buy and easier to wear, for Cambodian people, Sampot entered their subconscious, from the royal family to the Government officials, whether the rich or the poor, they still choose sampot to wear because it is the Cambodia national costume, which represents the cultural tradition of a friendly country.