Volume 2 No.7

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Place of Interest

Phrase Of The Month

Overheard





CHORNG KBIN - Khmer Style
Compiled by Cambokid,. Picture Courtesy of Ministry Of Tourism ( July, 2002 Volume 2 No.7 )

A long time ago it was only men who wore Kbin whilst women were never seen wearing them. A Kbin is a Cambodian sarong of sorts. Historically recorded in the bas-reliefs of many temples, the Kbin used to be shorter only reaching above the knees. This proves to be quite different from the Kbin in recent times. However the size of Kbin has been kept the same at 1m x 3.20 metres, it is only in the mode of wearing that times have changed.
The way to wear Kbin differs from time to time. Usually they wear it by joining both sides together and then wrapping them around the hip. The remaining material is then passed between the legs and tucked into the waist on the backside. It is commonly believed that the wearing of the Kbin was adopted from the Kleung people (Indian). The Kleung people worshiped many religions but the most common was Brahmanism.

The Khmer people at that time liked to read the story of Ramkei (Ramayanaka) - a Hindu epic poem describing the stories of the Gods. It was believed that the Kleung wore the Kbin because they respected Haknukmana (The Monkey God) who is an escort of Preah Ramayanak (Preah Ram). Haknukmana helped Preah Ram in the story. Thus, it is out of gratitude to Haknukmana, that the Kleung had to wear white, because Haknumana was a white monkey. They also had to wear the skirt, or sarong, with a tail because a monkey has a tail.

Nowadays both men and women wear the Kbin, especially for special ceremonies. The Kbin usually is worn with Av Bam Pong Kor Trang Veng (a kind of long sleeved shirt, which usually is white in color) for the men and Av Pak (a kind of women's shirt) or Av Bam Pong Kor Trang Klei (a kind of short sleeved shirt, which is also usually white in color). With it's origins in religious texts and its use continuing today, it provides a look into the past. The Kbin may be less common today but the simple fact that it is reserved for special occasions shows that it has not lost its place within the hearts of the Cambodian people.