The sampot is the national garment of Cambodia. The traditional dress is similar to those worn in the neighboring countries of Laos and Thailand, but variations do exist between the countries. The sampot dates back to the Funan era, when a Cambodian king allegedly ordered the people of his kingdom to wear the sampot at the request of Chinese envoys.
There are many variations of the Sampot; each is worn according to social class. Also, these clothes vary in color, shape, and size. The typical sampot, known also as the Sarong, is usually worn by men and women of lower class. It measures approximately one and a half meters and both ends are sewn together. It is tied to safely secure it on the waist
1, Sampot Châng Kben
Sampot Châng Kben was once the preferred choice of clothing for women of upper and middle classes for daily wear, although the practice of daily wear died out in the beginning of the twentieth century. It dates back to ancient Cambodia where deities were said to wear such styles. Unlike the typical sampot, it is more similar to pants than a skirt.
It is a rectangular piece of cloth measuring three metres long and one metres wide. It is worn by wrapping it around the waist, stretching it away from the body and twisting the knot. The knot is then pulled between the legs and held by a metal belt. Regardless of class, all Cambodian women wear the sampot chang kben on special events. Men may also wear it, but the traditional patterns depend on gender. The sampot chang kben has also been adopted in Thailand and Laos, where it is known as Chong Kraben
2, Sampot Phamuong
Sampot Phamuong are many different variations of traditional Khmer textiles. They are single colored and twill-woven. There are currently 52 colors used in Sampot Phamuong. The Phamuong Chorabap is a luxurious fabric woven with up to 22 needles.
The most valued silk used to create the Phamuong is Cambodian yellow silk, known for its fine quality. New Phamuong designs draw inspiration from ancient silk patterns and usually contain floral and geometrical motifs. Popular variations include rabak, chorcung, anlounh, kaneiv and bantok.
3, Sampot Hol
Sampot Hol is a typical traditional textile. There are two kinds of sampot hol; one is a wrapping skirt that uses a technique called chong kiet and twill weave. Influenced by the Indian patola, it has become a genuine Khmer art style after hundreds of years.
The sampot hol comes in over 200 patterns and three to five colors (yellow, red, brown, blue and green). There are four principal variations: Sampot Hol, Sampot Hol Por, Sampot Hol Kben and Sampot Hol Katong. Patterns are usually animals and geometric or floral motifs.
4, Sampot Tep Apsara
Sampot Tep Apsara is a famous type of sampot from the Khmer empire era. It can be found on the bas-relief of Apsara carved around Angkor Wat. Generally, the sampot tep apsara is tied to safely secure it on the waist and is held up with a golden belt. A long pleat is dropped at the middle of the sampot and recoils at the wearer’s calf. The hem of the skirt is knotted. There are also two knots that hang from the waist; the left knot is longer, while the right knot is more decorative. The sampot tep apsara is no longer worn daily in modern-day Cambodia.
5, Sampot Samloy
Sampot Samloy is a long unisex daily-wear skirt. The word samloy mostly refers to no colour but black for ancient name; now it is sometimes recognized as the soft, thin fabric with decoration and pattern similar to the Sarong Batik, although it may be smaller. With its thin and soft appearance, the style of dress had been required to hold a knot, making it similar to the Samport Chang Kben.
However, it is necessary to make a fold at the left or right side, like a Sarong. Another similar sampot, primarily worn by women and known as the “Saloy”. was knotted in the middle and hitched at the knee in order to facilitate leg movement. The saloy was commonly worn during the post-Angkor era.
6, Sampot Chorabap
Sampot Chorabap is a long silk skirt embroidered with gold thread. It is worn by women in Khmer classical dance, by newlyweds and by the character of Mae Hua in the Cambodian Royal Ploughing Ceremory
7, Sampot Sâng
Sampot Sâng is a short embroidered silk skirt.
8, Sampot Seai Sua
Sampot Seai Sua is a monochromatic skirt with a gold or silver embroidered band along the lower hem. Today, this skirt is more popular among Laotian women than among the Khmer people
9, Sampot Lberk
Sampot Lberk is a long silk-embroidered skirt. Today it is worn in marriage ceremonies, as is the sampot sabum. The sampot lberk was mostly worn by Cambodian nobility during the Lovek era.
10, Sampot Alorgn
Sampot Alorgn is a long skirt with vertical stripes, commonly worn by old people or farmers in the countryside. The sampot alorgn is similar to the Burmese Longyi.