Measurements in Khmer Society
December 28, 2009
Before the introduction of
modern tools of measurements such meter, liter,
or gram, in traditional Cambodian culture there were
many ways in which time and space is measured and objects
counted. Most commonly parts of human body were used as a
reference to measurements, for instance the wrist, thigh,
the stretch of an arm designated a specific distance or
length. These measure were called with specific names as
well, for example one hat stands for a stretch of
forearm, from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger).
Objects are also very widely used as references to measure
volume, quantity, distance and weight. For example, to
express the idea of something high, one would refer to the
height of a coconut tree: “…it is as high as a coconut
This exhibition and book propose a survey of some of those
traditional measurements found in the Cambodian society.
Although most oftenly modern measurements have come to
substitute the traditional ones, in some part of Cambodia it
is still common to meet people who use traditional ways of
measuring. Both the exhibition and publication is part of
our project A Cambodian Memory Bank project which interviews
and document elderly people about Culture and history of
We would like to take this occasion to express our deepest
gratitude to the all the people who contributed to the
archiving of history by providing their knowledge and
memories to the future generations. We also would like to
thank the researchers for their dedication to the project.
We also would like to thank the Rockefeller Foundation for
their financially supports the project.