Traditional crafts of Cambodia (2/7): Water jars, Battambang

Traveling through rural Cambodia, one cannot fail to notice massive jars by some houses. The hand-made jars can typically contain up to 1000 litres of water and are filled up manually most of the time. This water is used for different purposes from drinking to cooking and washing, and is of even greater importance during the dry season.

The water jar district of Battambang is home to various families living from this trade. Each family marks its hand-made jars differently, often with red and yellow paint for good luck. The manufacturing process starts by collecting clay from the fields and rivers that is shaped onto a wooden mold. Then, a cloth is wrapped around it and three layers of concrete are cemented onto the cloth, with added wire for extra strength.

The whole process takes about four hours. After four to five days, the jar is dry and ready to be transported. Driving through Battambang, it is not uncommon to see a rusty 125cc scooter pulling a trailer with five massive 1000-litre jars on roads full of potholes!

Given the fact that there is often no running water in rural Cambodian villages, water jars provide a real life improvement to families. Usually, fetching water is one of the girls’ chores before heading to school, and being able to store it in these jars saves them time in the morning, allowing them to catch their transport on time.

Marcella & Claire

Travel tips:

  • To make the most of your visit, we strongly recommend you to take a local guide (see below) as most craft-people do not speak English and are actually working hard to make a living, so they should not be disturbed. The local guide knows the usage and will tip appropriately.
  • To live this experience and follow us on the trail of traditional crafts in Battambang, we highly recommend a tour with the knowledgeable Mr. Ola, who proudly takes you around in his tuk-tuk for a full day of discovering the real Cambodia behind the scenes! Message him on Facebook or e-mail him.
  • Check out this interactive map for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area!

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