Monday, August 15, 2016

Artisan Silk in Cambodia

After five months of adventure in Australia, I went on a whirlwind tour of southeast Asia. Siem Reap in Cambodia ended up being one of my very favorite stops. I was blown away by the creativity of the local people - craftsmen, artists and chefs. Most people visit Siem Reap for the magnificent Angkor Wat temple, but the city has so much more to offer!

One highlight was seeing the remarkable skilled craftsmen and women of Artisans d'Angkor, a local company that was founded to help young people, many of which have disabilities, find work. In addition to a shop in town, the Artisans d'Angkor operate a silk farm about 45 minutes outside of town. A traditional Cambodian industry, silk craftsmanship has been revived by Artisans d'Angkor and like-minded groups, after the silk industry was decimated by the repressive policies of the Khmer Rouge dictatorship.

We whipped along by tuk tuk and made our way to the silk farm... We were unsure about making the trip out, but we were glad we did!

Upon arrival we were greeted by our friendly guide and went out to see the farm and work area.

So, silk comes from worms, one of the first things we saw was a giant bowl of worms!


After the worms make the cocoon, one needs to boil the cocoons so the dead worms fall out the bottom! Sounds quite grim but nothing goes to waste according to our guide, some people like to eat the boiled worms as a snack, like a lobster or a peanut.


Our guide showed us the whole process of silk-making, here we are looking at some unfinished silk.

Everything at Artisans d'Angkor is done by hand, no electric machines or shortcuts, in order to preserve the traditional techniques.

It takes one day to make two meters of fine silk or three meters of raw silk. It takes an artisan four or five days to make one patterned scarf in fine silk!

At the end of the tour, we saw some fine silk works on display, in addition to scarves and pillowcases, we saw intricate clothing with beautiful designs as well.

The artisans even held a fashion show, the highlight was this all-silk elegant dress, bedazzled with silk worm cocoons!

No comments:

Post a Comment