Local economy

Phu My turns grey sedge into elegant handicrafts

Grey sedge, a plant that grows wild in Kien Giang province, has been used by the Khmer in Phu My commune, Giang Thanh district, to make beautiful handicraft items.
We visited Tran Thi Xem in Kinh Moi village when she was knitting a mat from grey sedge. Xem, who has been weaving mats for more than 20 years, swiftly knitted the last lines of a beautiful grey sedge mat with her skillful hands.

Xem said that she has to get up early every day to pick grey sedge. The sedge is then dried for two or three days. After that, the stalks are pressed by machine and dyed before being woven into mats.

“Knitting is not a hard job, but it requires meticulousness and carefulness,” Xem said, adding that the craft is done mostly by women.

Like Xem, most Khmer women in Phu My commune, where some 2,500 hectares of grey sedge grow naturally, make sedge mats as a main source of income.

An experimental grey sedge farm at Phu My species/habitat management area.

A Khmer woman harvests grey sedge.

Grey sedge is dried after being harvested.

Dried stalks are pressed by machine to make them even.

Grey sedge of different sizes is used to make different products.

Khmer women’s skillful hands create beautiful items.

The products are dried after being woven.

The grey sedge bags have cloth or leather handles.

Sewing stage.

Working at Phu My species/habitat management area.

Ly Hoang Bao, who is in charge of the handicraft division at Phu My species/habitat management area, said his division currently creates hundreds of jobs for locals, 90% of whom are Khmer. Apart from mats, the locals receive training to make bags, hats, cushions and home items from grey sedge.

Phu My annually produces around 200,000 grey sedge-based items worth 6-7 billion dong (roughly 260,000-304,000 US dollars). The products are exported to Europe, Japan and China.

Phu My's handicraft items made from grey sedge

By Son Nghia & Thanh Dat

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