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Cambodian Hokkien

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Subject: Chinese Cambodian, Overseas Chinese, Ethnic groups in Cambodia, Chinese people in Zambia, Chinese people in Lesotho
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Cambodian Hokkien

Cambodian Hokkien / Khmer Hokkien
A modern Cambodian Hokkien wedding show off a preservation of Cambodian and Chinese culture merged into one as well as the recent representation of European influence.
Total population
82,600 (est).
Regions with significant populations
Cambodia, Vietnam and America
Khmer language, Mandarin Chinese and Min nan
Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese Folk Religion
Related ethnic groups
Khmer people, Chinese Cambodian and Hoklo people

Cambodian Hokkien (Chinese: 柬埔寨福建人) commonly known as Khmer Hokkien (Khmer: ខែ្មរ ចិនហុកគៀន) are the descendants of Hokkien Chinese who began settling in Cambodia since the early part of the 12th century. This term specifically refers to the Chinese population with Hokkien ancestry in Cambodia and other neighbouring regions. Over time, this population has also emigrated locally and internationally to Thailand, Vietnam and America. These Hokkien people have either partially or wholly assimilated into the local Cambodian customs, as most evidenced by their domestic attire and lingua franca. This parallels with their Malaysian and Indonesian Peranakan counterparts where cultural remnants of their Chinese origins still define their distinct ethnicity. .[1]


Since the discovery of the earliest Kingdom, Funan at 1st century AD, it been attracted a majority of Chinese in Commercial relation which the transportation fulfilled by sea. There once the time when a group of Chinese had wept while were vaguely seeking the shelter in their first arrival in the area which named Poum Chen Yum literally means Crying Chinese Village. The legend demonstrated the evidence of Hokkien preceding over centuries. The wave repeated during diplomat Zhou Daguan's envoy journey. One of his description said:"The Chinese traveler frequently escape over the area ,yet having individual satisfactory community . In contrast, They exceptionally have participated in Cambodian society in purpose such as food supplies, mate, shelter, furniture and business . Centralize with the tradition and law of origin abandon gain less punishment, the free immigration had open for Chinese refugee to settle in Indochina.

Trace to the fleeing Hoklo people after the decline of Tang Dynasty permanently from the 8th century to following period in terms of inner political crisis and foreign invaderism, it point out a roof that Hokkien ancestry was the first dewalling Chinese in Cambodia. It closely to the early of 15th century when Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho), a Muslim Chinese, visited Champa (Today Vietnam) along with a number of Hokkien people whose then grew into the different class such as Peranakan in Malacca and Java as well as Cambodian Hokkien in Cambodia.

In 1884, Hainanese and Hokkien descendants counted the most in Phnom Penh commonly out of the half population were Chinese. During 1880s, Two researcher noticed the different recognition between the two class's broken relation in struggles and fights. As the result, Hokkien race basically expanded to the different place and fatefully assimilate extra thing with local costume over the other classes. In fact, the reason not only the movement in 1880s but given the consequence of Hokkien's least cultural identity, Political demand and heavy compersionable idea to lead their generation spread over around Cambodia even the rural ones. Thus, have got a Cambodian Hokkien seemed not very Chinese or even not Chinese at all.

After the Khmer rouge, Cambodian-Hokkiens in distant area become less maintainable to their ancestry tradition and related themselves more to the term of Cambodian, set out begin call Hokkien while They lack elimination in Phnom Penh, attributed to Teachow people surrounding the city.


Just like the term, Cambodian Hokkien provided the mixture culture between Chinese and Cambodia. Despite those culture development have excessive adoption to the various of Chinese class today, it reveals that this type before only accepted by Hokkien ancestry to envovled in their daily lives since their first reach to Cambodia, left the rest classes to follow partially then.

Unlike Peranakan who divided their fusion culture in isolatable section, All influence has merged in one for every kind. In case, Chinese tradition is responsible to male maintainer while the female embrace mostly in shape of Khmer.


Aung Yok Lean (Left) and her family are Cambodian Hokkien Lady from extreme rich family in community at Kampong Thom, dressed in traditional attire. Circa, 1931.

Costume of Cambodian Hokkien defines the inheritance of the two culture. The earliest female dress was identical to that of Khmer's; a knee length blouse called Av Bopock (tube-skirt) likely the most formal outfit for an old Cambodian Hokkien women to worn beside a white Chinese shirt and dragged a handkerchief on the shoulder or beneath the pocket. The married women regularly formed this costume in respects of wife, prior to singlehood when every young girl booasted to the long arm shirt in their home and flavoured with body-hugging called Av neang Nor in public area. A long dark tone or flower prints scarf was hang on their two shoulder. From young to old, Sampot Chang Kben became the massive typical skirt while Samloy was the most promising around the young age in more strong colourful and engaging decoration. The Black colour with the front pleat back then accepted by the elders in 1930s. In contrast, The used of Khmer costume was limit for Cambodian Hokkien such as Sabai strictfully banned in all ethnic family in case of naked shoulder. Otherwise, The male fashion focus the heavily ancestry heritage with its Changshan and some development to Chinese pant which after became Seam Cowand shirt which then created Av Chen to fit the climate condition there.

The effect of Chinese has got to be the materials that induce the Vietnamese dark tone silk, called Prai Lahn (in Vietnamese called Lanh mean cool) which was finely woven, smooth and shiny, transparent the cloth . This type of slippery cloth was among cheaper which the average Hokkien and Cambodian possible to used. The Vietnamese light elegant silk cloth generally known as Prai Muy A (from the Vietnamese village Mỹ A in Tan Chau where it is produced) that was sooth, supple and somewhat thick. This type considered the highest quality as well as price they approraited to label the best for Cambodia Hokkien which mostly began richest and high status. In modern times, Vietnamese Prai Muy A preferred, perhaps tastes has changed and The costume less displayed for the next generations though. There were the addition of excessive type of Chinese or Vietnamese silk to be participated in making Av Bupock, Samloy or Pants.

During the late of French Colonial, the numerous of European attire introduced, revise the remains in contemporary styles started from 1950s to present. This given the minor consequence of Cambodian Hokkien costume to rival, abandoned some of them to pure Cambodian instead.


The typical style of cooking throughout modern Cambodia is a legacy the stir frying techniques imported by Hokkien Cambodians throughout the ages. While other types of Chinese have never acquired a taste for the strong smelling fish paste Prahok, Hokkien Cambodians have embraced this as a staple ingredient in their cooking.

The popular noodle dish for Lunar New Year almost certainly originates from Hokkien Mee which is also very prevalent in Malaysian and Singaporean cuisines. Both types of noodles share the same yellow appearance, tastes and ingredients of rice, eggs, and prawns.


  1. ^ The Chinese in Cambodia By William E. Willmott
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