Most residents of Andong Russei village, Kampong Chhnang, continue to produce pottery in the traditional way. Some have even been in this profession since before the Khmer Rouge era.

In Kampong Chhnang, the tradition of creating pottery and other decorative items from red clay has been a longstanding practice among the local people, especially those in villages like Andong Russey, Kdei Tnaot, and Trapeang Sbov in Rolea Ba’ier district. These red clay pottery products not only provide livelihoods for many villagers but also contribute to the unique identity of the people of Kampong Chhnang.

However, pottery production is no longer the main source of income for Andong Russei village. The villagers have utilized the increasing number of tourists visiting the area to establish tourism companies.

To attract tourists, they have installed a traditional fountain made from a pot at the entrance and a long bamboo bed for tourists to sit and watch them make pottery.

The Andong Russei Tourism Community was established to promote local handicrafts and generate additional income for families. However, the organization has faced some challenges due to the limited participation of families.

Out of 400 families in Andong Russei village, only 15 families are involved in the organization.

“Sometimes, we invite villagers to gatherings to help them understand the importance of hospitality in the service and tourism industry. However, many people are unwilling to attend because they see it as a waste of time with no tangible benefits,” said Sambon, in charge of the Andong Russei Tourism Community.

Established a few years ago, the Andong Russei Tourism Community allows tourists to experience firsthand the process of making clay pots. Tourists can also see how villagers make sugar palm juice, including watching them climb palm trees and boil palm juice.

Sambon said: “Despite facing many difficulties, I still hope to maintain the organization’s activities.”

Sixty-year-old Uon Pov sits in her workshop, filled with various pottery products, both finished and unfinished, made from local clay. She recounts learning to make all kinds of pots and pottery from her mother since she was very young. She began helping her mother make pots in her spare time after school when she was just nine years old.

Villagers are always willing to share their pottery skills and knowledge with curious tourists. Sambon, who learned pottery from her mother and is now passing on the craft to her daughter, said: “Many people come to visit the village. They come from Siem Reap, Battambang, and Phnom Penh, as well as from outside Cambodia.”

Mrs. Chea Muon, 85 years old, has been making pottery for a long time. Photo: Hong Menea

Villagers are trained in a more modern method of using a throwing wheel. This method involves shaping a pot using a wooden paddle to beat the clay, supported by a round wooden knob inside.

“Tourists can watch us work or learn the craft. They can make clay pots and take them home,” said Teang Sophan, from Kampong Chhnang Pottery Workshop, a business associated with the Cambodia Traditional Pottery Project.

“Tourists come to watch us make pottery. If they don’t want to buy, that’s fine. We won’t charge them. Nowadays, very few tourists visit the workshop because most of them stroll around the village to see how villagers make pottery,” Sophan said.

With a blend of ancient knowledge and modern techniques, Kampong Chhnang Pottery Village has produced unique pottery products, attracting the attention of tourists from around the world. Visiting Kampong Chhnang, tourists not only admire exquisite pottery products but also experience the traditional pottery-making process, learning about the unique history and culture of the people here.