They’re shiny and ever-so-eye-catching – but these earrings are so much more.
These earrings are crafted from old artillery shell casings, collected from around the Cambodian countryside and the Mekong River. Those bombshells are left overs from Pol Pot’s genocidal regime in the 1970s, which took the lives of over two million Cambodians in just four years and shredded the social, cultural and economic fabric of the nation.
These earrings are a symbol of peace. In transforming these remnants of bloodshed into things of beauty, Cambodian artisans are working to craft a new legacy: one that acknowledges and accepts the tragedy their nation has experienced and uses it to build a beautiful future.
These earrings are handcrafted. Trained artisan’s cut rings from the cylindrical brass shells using an acetylene torch, and then polish the edges smooth. Traditional motifs like doves and leaves are hand-engraved into the metal with intricate Khmer patterns from Angkor Wat.
These earrings honour and reflect a rich heritage of craftsmanship. Brass and silverwork has been a trade in Cambodia since the eighth century, and each design carries a legacy of Cambodian history and meaning. Art forms like jewellery making came under threat during the destruction of the Khmer Rouge regime, but creating these bombshell earrings helps resurrect the creative talent that has been trampled.
These earrings bolster the economic prospects of its craftspeople. Providing a market for these earrings provides an important stream of income for craftspeople in Cambodia, whose economy is still struggling to recover four decades on from the conflict. In doing so, it also encourages the passing on of skills and the continued recovery and growth of survivors of the genocide.
Find out more at Rajana Crafts