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A staple medium: Art made of rice grains

Aishas Ni.
Aishas Ni. Thik Kaliyann

A staple medium: Art made of rice grains

Most Cambodians eat rice every day, but Aishas Ni has found another use for the grain: she makes pictures out of it. At her stall at the Angkor Night Market are images of Apsara dancers, Angkor Wat, animals and flowers all carefully made using different shades of rice.

The 29-year-old Cham woman said she learned the craft in 2010 from her husband, who comes from Saudi Arabia.

“After I got married, according to Islam, I have to stay home as a housewife,” she explained.

“However, it is good for me to stay home if I do something to earn money at the same time, so I decided to ask my husband to teach me about rice art painting, because I think I can make things different from other people.”

After six years making and selling the rice art, she opened her stall at the market earlier this year. “It is the best feeling ever when people come into my store and admire my work,” she said.

Sitting in her shop using a pair of tweezers to carefully place the grains in a pre-drawn outline of a landscape with an elephant in the foreground, Aishas said each picture took a minimum of about three hours.

“This work is not easy; you cannot do it without a strong commitment, concentration, and patience,” she said.

Once she spent a month making a world map out of rice, which sold just a couple of days after she put it on display.

Usually, she sells two to three rice pictures per day. The price varies, depending on size, with an A4 picture going for about $20.

“It’s not only tourists that are interested in my work, but also the local people, as they are so impressed with what I have done,” she said. “I hope they will continue to support my work.”

To contact Aishas Ni about her rice art painting, call 093 40 90 03.

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