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Breaking the Bank: Cambodia and Clay Piggy Banks


Generally, a piggy back is a pig-shaped money holder, designed with the intention that the money placed inside will be saved up. To get the money out, the bank has to be broken.

Piggy banks are believed to have come from several different places, such as the Old English word for the type of clay used to make money holding pots (pygg), but that's not the only place.
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The very oldest pig-shaped coin holders are from Java and date from roughly the 14th-15th century. This puts them in the time period of the Majapahit Empire. The piggy bank seen here was reconstructed into almost an intact vessel once again, and now resides in the National Museum of Indonesia in Jakarta.
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The Javanese term "cèlèngan" means both "likeness of a wild boar" and "savings", but it is not clear which definition comes first. Also, pigs are generally thought to bring good luck and prosperity. If you wanted your money in a place where it may bring you luck and more wealth, a pig is the best place to put it.
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In order to get the money out of the pig, the vessel needs to be broken. By making it the vessel out of stronger or more durable materials, you run the risk of not being able to get your money out!

Additionally, lay is very easy to acquire and work with if one is already familiar with the basic techniques of pottery.
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The original pig that prompted this story (featured on the first page) was painted a goldish color, with many bright accents, large expressive eyes, and long eyelashes. Through my research, it appears that this style is similar to Chinese piggy banks. In China especially, pigs are thought to be lucky animals, so piggy banks are very popular. 
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While anyone could use a piggy bank, they seem to be aimed mainly at children, given to them by parents or relative who want to teach them about the virtues of saving their money. The banks featured here belong to the young nieces and nephews of the photo-taker and proudly featured on their blog. 
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In Cambodia it can be very difficult to make a living. Over the course of my research, I found several examples of potters who decided to supplement their income by making coin banks along with their normal pots. This was done in order to supplement the income that might not have otherwise been enough to support them. 
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"Kampong Chhang" or "Port of Pots" is an areas of Cambodia famed for their high quality pottery. The region has an abundance of a certain type of clay that allows the pots made there to be particularly high quality. 

High quality pottery has been made here since before the Khmer Empire reached its height and with more and more modern potters adapting to new techniques and technologies, they will likely continue being made for a long time to come.
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Pottery is integral to the livelihood of many Cambodians and is closely tied to tourism.

Many tourism sites for Cambodia talk about the area's many quality pottery makers and their shops, encouraging tourists to go to these places and support the locals. In there articles I found about potters in Cambodia, many of them talked about how much they hoped tourist shops would order their wares or tourists would come buy to purchase pieces. 

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