Cambodia 100 years ago: appearance, behavior, dress

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The origin of the Cambodians is not exactly known, but it is generally assumed that they are the descendants of the Khmers, who made their country and their civilization famous through their impressive buildings of religious character, a great many of which have been preserved to the present time, for example, the Angkor group, well known to all those who have visited East Asia.

From a linguistic point of view, the Cambodians are classified as belong- ing to the Mon-Khmer group, but from a physical point of view they are, at least to a certain extent, mixed with Thai and Chinese. In addition, there may also be a certain mixture of Hindu and Malay blood.

The Cambodian is generally relatively tall (average height, 5 ft., 5 in.) and of vigorous constitution. He is subbrachycephalic (index 83.6) and has a brown skin of various shades from light to dark.

The nose is large with the bridge often almost lacking, and the eyes are generally not slanting. Men and women have the hair cut so that it stands up like the bristles of a brush. The Buddhist priests and monks, however, have their heads shaved.

The Cambodians dress in a picturesque way, using bright-colored textiles. The numerous priests or monks, often seen walking in files on the roads, are wrapped in a lemon-yellow togalike cloak.

The most typical garment of both sexes is the sampot, a brightly colored strip of cotton or silk tucked around the waist with the lower end brought up between the legs and fastened to the belt in front. The upper part of the body is covered by a tight-fitting jacket or tunic, buttoned in the front. Sometimes the women use, instead of a jacket, a strip of cloth or a scarf.

The Cambodians live in houses built on high stilts, or in floating houses anchored along the rivers or on the periodically flooded plains.

They are open-hearted, friendly, and hospitable, and show a fatalistic indolence, matched by a profound religious sentiment.

The way of living of the peasants and fishermen is generally simple and severe. Their food consists principally of rice, vegetables, fish, fruit, and coconut milk.

Abstract from the book:
The peoples of French Indocina
By Olov R.T. Janse
Published by the Smithsonian Institution, 1944
Photo: old photo from internet

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Read more:
Thailand 100 years ago: monks in the yellow robe
Thailand 100 years ago: history of old quarters of Bangkok
Thailand 19 century: His Lordship white elephant Chang Phoouk
Vietnam 100 years ago: table manners
Vietnam 100 years ago: chewing the betel-nut
Vietnam 100 years ago: how to become a mandarin
Vietnam 100 years ago: religion and superstitions
Vietnam 100 years ago: worshiping ancestors
Vietnam 100 years ago: practice of polygamy

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