Cambodia may not be the richest country in the region, but its rich cultural heritage and thriving history can effortlessly distinguish the country from its neighbors. The Kingdom is renowned for its awe-inspiring architectural masterpieces that have been a major source of cultural inspiration dating back to the ancient Khmer Empire. Cambodian nation comprises a unique identity rising from its vibrant tradition and culture, rituals and ceremonies down to traditional costumes, dances, music, and other simple materials yet essential for daily uses.
Amongst the existing heritages, there is a unique item of clothing which has also become a major part of the nation’s identity. That is a Cambodian hand-loomed scarf commonly known as “Krama”. Krama is not just a single item of apparel, it is an iconic and ubiquitous symbol of Cambodian nation.
With an urge to strive for international recognition, GoGoCambodia recently launched a campaign of the longest Krama with the purpose of breaking a world record unveiling another pride for the whole nation. The campaign of producing the world’s longest hand-woven Krama provides the public, especially young Cambodian, the opportunity to understand how Krama is made through direct engagement in the weaving process as well as to appreciate its full potential. By adding a creative flare to this Cambodian traditional garment, Krama comes with distinctive patterns and colors and is beginning to emerge as an appealing fashion trend among youths.
Krama has historically been incorporated into the daily life of Cambodians passing from one generation to another even though its origin is still vague. Nonetheless, we can notice Krama’s significant existence in most Cambodian traditional games that people usually relish during any special occasion, especially an annual celebration of Khmer New Year. The two most popular games that have Krama featured in are “Chol Chhoung” and “Leak Kanseng”.
Leak Kanseng is one of the most popular games being played throughout Cambodia at possibly any gathering occasion, especially during Khmer New Year celebration. The game is favored for its very simple material called the ‘kanseng’ which is known as any type of ‘krama’ or ‘Cambodian scarf’. We twist the kanseng on each end in opposite directions then folded in half to form a twisted rope. The end knot is served as a tail used for gripping and swinging by the players.
A game is usually played by at least 6 to 7 people sitting in a circle on the ground. One person takes the kanseng or krama and walks around the circle trying to secretly place it behind the one who pays little or no attention. The players sitting are not allowed to turn around or look behind their back. For this reason, every player has to always pay a careful attention to the movement of the person holding kanseng, otherwise they would lose track of where the kanseng is. The moment a player is aware that the kanseng is behind them, he or she needs to quickly grasp the kanseng and swing to hit another player sitting on the right-hand side. The player being hit has to walk briskly or run behind the circle before returning to the vacant seat. Then, the person with the kanseng starts placing the material behind another player, and the cycle repeats. Leak Kanseng is most favored among Cambodian teenagers for its energetic entertainment. The purpose of this Khmer traditional game is to instill in the young people a sense of alertness as well as cooperation.
To play this Cambodian traditional game, the players are divided into two teams, a team of girls on one side and boys on the other. ‘Chhoung’ is the only material required to play this game. It is usually made of a ‘krama’ or a Cambodian scarf rolled up like a large cloth ball at one end to create a tail. The team with the chhoung is the tossing team. The tossing team will grip the tail of the chhoung and toss it up in a high arch over to the other team. If caught, the chhoung will be thrown back to the tossing team with the intention of hitting anyone of the members within the team. If the chhoung miss hitting a person, they may start the game again by rotating the tossing team. If a person gets hit, the team must then sing and dance as they return the chhoung. In some versions of the game, a traditional song and dance are performed. In others, the players are free to create lyrics to tease each other, giving them a chance to be bit flirtatious. Chol Chhoung is said to create passion and attraction, which makes it a favorite among Cambodian teenagers and young adults.
As mentioned, Chol Choung and Leak Kanseng are just the two among other Khmer traditional games that Cambodian normally play during special gathering. If you wish to experience these games and understand more about the culture of Cambodian people, do not miss the upcoming “Khmer New Year Celebration by Borei Angkor” which will be held on Saturday April 14th, 2018. It is going to be an impressive cultural experience you can find nowhere else!
For detailed information about this cultural event, please visit https://www.boreiangkor.com/khmer-new-year-celebration