Silk Weaving in Cambodia
Cambodian silk is exquisitely beautiful.
Despite the civil war destroying much of the arts in Cambodia, silk weaving has started to make a come back. There are entire villages that are involved in silk weaving although this is threatened by the high prices they have to pay to import the silk to weave (see below).
A few NGOs have helped villages establish sericulture in their communities as this was all but destroyed during the Khmer Rouge regime.
Until more mulberry tree orchards are established, Cambodia needs to import their silk (more than 95% is imported of which much comes from Vietnam). The prices have more than doubled in recent years with many families abandoning the practice as it becomes less profitable. Prices paid for the finished product is often extremely low so new markets are required to ensure this art form is not lost
The silk that is either 'homegrwn' or importted is dyed and woven in Cambodia using often traditional regional designs. 'Ikat' designs are often very elaborate and one piece can take 3 months to make
'Cambodia Uncovered' includes visits to villages that weave silk - either on boat or day trips from Phnom Penh. We can also organise specialised textile tours which incorporate silk (and cotton) weaving
One can see the different steps of silk preparation from worms being fed on mulberry leaves, worms spinning their cocoons, removing the worms from the cocoons, spinning either raw or fine silk before dyeing, preparing the warp and then finally weaving. Observing the weaving process is astonishing as one realises how difficult it can be to use both hands and feet to get the pattern one wants. For ikat weaving it is more involved with multiple ties being made on the silk before a lengthy dyeing process which is essential before the weaving begins
See our page on textiles for more information and Contact Us if you are interested in seeing this age old practice
Silk is available to purchase all thoughout Cambodia. Scarves of various sizes are readily available in all markets. For those who are dressmakers there is an abundance of colours and textures to choose from. For those who want clothes made in Cambodia, there are plenty of tailors who can make the item of your choice
If patterns are required in the silk, the pattern is made by tying off the areas required for certain colours. The dyeing process is long and arduous as each colour requires at least one 'tie' before dyeing.
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