Village carries on bronze working tradition

Phnom Penh Post 20120302

A feature on a Cambodian village that continues the traditional craft and trade of bronze working. Interestingly enough, the men forge the vessels, but the women do the engraving.

Phnom Penh Post 20120302
Phnom Penh Post 20120302

Reviving bronze on Koh Chen
Phnom Penh Post, 02 March 2012

Koh Chen is an island with a wide reach. The closer you get to its village, the louder the heartbeat-pounding sound emanating from it gets. The source, men hammering heated bronze, is also drawing visitors from around the globe, who – along with shops in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap – are showing renewed interest in the intricately engraved bronze items produced in the village.

Koh Chen is located in the Tonle Sap River about 35 kilometers from Phnom Penh, in Ponhea Leu district of Kandal province. Its residents have been practicing a craft handed down to them over so many generations they cannot remember its source. What is noticeable at first is that the men do the forging and the women engrave. Ask around, and all admit that without the engraving there would be no craft.

Kong Sreytom first learned how to engrave on silver. That was 24 years ago when she was 11. “We rarely make silver, bronze or cooper utensils without engraving. People never order products without engraving. They buy because of these beautiful engravings,” she explains. “Sometimes they even give us pictures and ask us to copy the designs. Engraving attracts customers and raises the price,” she added.

Full story here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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