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New crafts center exhibits roaming show

New crafts center exhibits roaming show

A SHOWCASE of prizewinning Cambodian traditional crafts is on display in Phnom Penh

before traveling to Germany in May.

Silk, ceramic, pottery, silverware, cloths, looms and silversmiths' tools are all

on show. Fifteen craft makers are participating in the show; top prizewinners will

take their products to be shown in Germany.

"We will help the Cambodian craftsmen to become stronger and have more financial

income, and here most of the crafts are made by families ... everything is based

on the Cambodian tradition," said Ulrich Brink, the representative of the show's

German sponsor.

The Banteay Srey Pet's silk and Chroy Chang Va's silverwork tied for first prize.

The Future Light Orphanage won second prize for its natural silk products: handbags,

clothes, souvenir boxes, silk flowers.

"I was happy to win," said Future Light director Phaly Nuon, who is also

chairwoman of the Cambodia Craft Cooperation (CCC). Making and selling the products

helps provide the nearly 300 orphans with valuable skills, and also provides money

for other job training, she said

"I hope that my products will woo foreigners to buy them," Nuon said, noting

that foreigners appreciate the time and care that go into hand-made goods. The products

will not come cheap, however - silk shirts cost over $300; ornate stone water bowls

with stands are $100.

Handwerkskammer Koblenz - the craft chamber of the German town of Koblenz - undertook

a Partnership Project with the CCC in order to provide training courses as well as

to market Cambodian crafts in Germany. Brink said the partnership was a beneficial

one.

"I think craftsmen must come together, if they come together they are strong,"

he said, noting that close cooperation between artisans and dealers is important.

"When we selected the winning products we had the possibility of their sale

in Europe in mind," Brink said. The Handwer-kskammer Koblenz will undertake

all the expenses to send the winners to Europe.

Seung Kimyonn, Executive Director of the Partnership Project, said the CCC aims both

to build up traditional skills and to provide training in new ideas and styles.

"I want Cambodia to have more national honor because now we have found help

from abroad," he said.

German craft designer Martina Dempf said she admired Cambodian traditional silverwork

but agreed that training in modern styles could open up new markets for Cambodians.

"To improve the economic situation of the craftsmen, we think that it may be

helpful if we make modern adaptations of traditional silverware," she said,

adding she hoped the show would put Khmer culture on the map in Europe.

The show is in the CCC's new gallery at Wat Phnom, which opened Jan 30. The CCC is

an association of craftmakers which runs workshops, seminars, and training to promote

Cambodian crafts.

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