Khmer people's grey sedge handicraft village in the Mekong Delta

By Kieu Duong   October 17, 2019 | 04:37 pm GMT+7

Khmer people in Kien Giang Province have capitalized on the wild grey sedge as material to produce handmade items for centuries.

For hundreds of years, Khmer people living near the border with Cambodia have harvested grey sedge to make handicraft daily life products. It is a common sight to see locals harvesting the plants in Phu My commune, Giang Thanh district in Kien Giang Province.

For hundreds of years, Khmer ethnic minority people living near the Cambodian border have harvested grey sedge to make handicrafts for daily use. It is a common sight to see locals harvesting the plants in Phu My Commune, Kien Giang's Giang Thanh District.

Before going to the field, the farmers wear knee-length socks to avoid leeches.

Before going to work in the fields, farmers wear knee-length socks to protect themselves from leeches.

The grey sedge is harvested by holding the top and pulling up instead of sickle-cutting like they harvest grass elsewhere in the Mekong Delta. The farmers also wear gloves to prevent scratching their hands when they pull the plants. Thi Vay of Phu My commune who has been doing this for nearly 10 years said people harvest grey sedge takes place from 12 pm to 4 pm every day after they are done with rice plantation and animal husbandry.

The grey sedge is harvested by holding the top and pulling up instead of using a sickle to cut as elsewhere in the Mekong Delta.

The farmers also wear gloves to prevent scratching their hands when working with the plants. Thi Vay of Phu My Commune, who has been harvesting grey sedge for nearly 10 years, said people harvest the plant from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. every day after they finish working in rice plantation and animal husbandry.

The grass is sorted immediately after being plucked out of earth. Vay only keeps the green, hard one, while those yellow, withering ones are discarded.

The plant is sorted immediately after being plucked out of the earth. Vay only keeps the green, hard plants, while the yellow, withering ones are discarded.

Grey sedge is a genus of the sedge family. It has hard stem, brown flowers on the top and is about 1.5 meters high. The grass is distributed mainly in the tropical climate. In Vietnam, Phu My commune is the only place with the ecosystem where grey sedge grows in a large area in the Mekong Delta.

Grey sedge is a genus of the sedge family. It has a hard stem with brown flowers on the top and is about 1.5 meters high. The plant grows wild in Vietnam’s wetlands. Phu My Commune hosts the prime ecosystem for grey sedge to grow in a large area of the Mekong Delta.

After harvesting the grass is put in 2-kg bundles. Van usually comes back with 10 bundles after every harvesting trip. The sedges in Phu My grow mostly by themselves in the wetland. After the people have harvested all the sedge near their house, they move further to other wetlands to harvest more. But it only takes about four to five months for the sedge to populate the field.

After harvesting the plant, it is gathered into two-kg bundles. Van usually comes back with 10 bundles after each picking.

The sedge in Phu My Commune grows mostly on their own in the wetlands. After people have harvested all the sedge near their homes, they move along further to other wetlands to harvest more. It only takes about four to five months for the sedge to populate the fields.

Bunches of sedge are hung in front of peoples homes in Tran The hamlet, Phu My commune. Walking along the canal by the commune on sunny days, visitors can see people drying and weaving handicrafts on their porch.

Bunches of the sedge are hung in front of people's homes in Tran The hamlet, Phu My Commune. When walking along the canal by the commune on sunny days, visitors can see people drying and weaving handicrafts on their porches.

Sa Rel, a Phu My resident brought the grass to the yard to dry at midday. If the days are sunny, people only need to dry them for three days. The dried bundles are delivered to a factory nearby to compress. Before machinery was available, people used a large pestle to smash the grass.

Sa Rel, a Phu My resident, sorts the sedge in her yard to dry at midday. If the days are sunny, people only need to dry them for three days. The dried bundles are delivered to a factory nearby to be compressed. Before machinery was available, people used a large pestle to smash the grass.

The compressed grass is used as material for local people to create household items. Ly Hoang Bao who is in charge of handicraft arts at Phu My Species - Habitat Conservation Area said people make about 200,000 pieces, earning several billion dong each year (VND 1 billion = 43,082).

The compressed plants are used as material for local people to create household items.

Ly Hoang Bao, who is in charge of handicraft arts at Phu My Species - Habitat Conservation Area, said people make about 200,000 pieces, earning several billion dong (VND1 billion = $43,400) each year.

Some handicrafts made from gray sedge are baskets, bags, and cushions. In addition to Phu My commune, some localities in Vietnam also grow and produce handicrafts made from the plant like My Hanh Bac commune in Long An Province, also in the Mekong Delta and Pho Trach village in the Central province of Thua Thien Hue.

Some handicrafts made from grey sedge are baskets, bags, and cushions. In addition to Phu My Commune, locals in the Mekong Delta’s My Hanh Bac Commune in Long An Province and central Vietnam’s Pho Trach Village in Thua Thien- Hue Province also harvest and produce handicrafts made from the plants.

 
 
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