IKTT (Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles), from SiemReap Cambodia
IKTT (Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles), from SiemReap Cambodia

The works done by hands

The works done by handsI think about the works done by hands through working with Cambodian traditional textiles, especially silk ikat. The traditional ikat motifs have been basically succeeded from mothers to children. And there are no drawing designs. Everything memorized in their hands.

I have an experience when I just started the activities of IKTT in 1996. When I visited to the villages of Takeo Province, where the textiles are popular, to look for some well experienced weavers, I met one experienced elderly weaver and I showed my old textiles of silk ikat and asked her to weave the same one for me, one old man who works at a next door general store listened to our conversation and suddenly offered to weave the textile for me and started working totie and dye.

His immediate motive to start tying was naturally by knowing that I normally paid several times more money to the elderly well experienced weaver compared to normal payment for other weaver. I heard his mother was already dead during the local war, but she was quite experienced weaver and he helped her mother to weave textiles in his childhood, so the traditional ikat motifs was memorized in his hands.

His favorite tying design is gorgeous flower-patterns inside an enclosure of the arabesque patterns. I have not seen such design anywhere before. The traditional design has been revived like this in his hands.

Hands have cutaneous sense and always work as a part of body with connecting brain. Memorized hands are equal to body itself, and not just as a tool. It is a result of basically human action to create something using by hands.

Piling up the experiences of the actions has built up the memories. The ikat design have been created from the memories of hands with a sense of beauty.

And one more important thing is desire as a motive. But beauty is not only one. There are various, different beauty senses. It is an extreme opposite ways between the Khmer weavers of in Takeo Province who like a beauty of precise detailed repeated design and the Cham weavers of Kompong Cham Province who like a bold design. And the fusion of the two senses of beauties has made the wonderful Cambodian traditional textiles.

It means that the experiences have taken over in their hands through several generations. And these experiences are piled up through generations to generations.
Following up such memories of hands, I am wondering now about the meaning of using hands as one part of body.


Morimoto Kikuo
Translation by Mr.Takurou MATSUOKA

update : August 11, 2008 8:30 AM

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