Artisans D’Angkor was founded in 1998 and offers the opportunity for young people from rural areas and with limited education opportunities to learn skilled trades such as silk weaving, lacquer or silver work and stone or wood carving. Since its conception, Artisans D’Angkor has opened 42 workshops in Siem Reap province and now hires 1300 people, including 900 trainees. In addition to this, the craftsmen formed an association which holds a 20% share on the company meaning they are a “Fair Trade” development company too.
One of their main projects is a silk farm and workshop located just 20 minutes drive from Siem Reap and after reading a little about its history we decided that we would pay a short visit there in order to see some of the work they are doing and hoped we would be able to combine it with some souvenir shopping too!
They offer free tours of the 8 hectare farm showing you everything from the mulberry tree plantations (which occupy 5 hectares of land) & “farming” of the silk worms to the life cycle of the silk worm, unwinding and preparation of the silk threads and the silk weaving process. I knew a little about the silk making process however had never imagined how much effort goes into the manufacturing of silk and what an important role it played in people’s lives.
The Silk farm is open from 8am-5pm daily, with free shuttle busses being available from the Siem reap workshop and 9:30am and 1:30pm however the farm is well known to local taxi and tuk tuk drivers and you should have no issues finding it.
Did you know…..
1. The life cycle of a silk worm is 47 days
2. After thousands of years of selective breeding, Silk Moths are not able to fly
3. The Silk moths mate for 12 hours after which the male dies
4. The silk worms have to be killed before hatching as they would break the cocoon if they did so and the silk would be unusable
5. The worms do not go to waste; they are edible and are a popular high protein snack (no I didn’t try one!)
6. Each cocoon contains between 0.5 and 1.5km of thread
7. It takes 10 kg of cocoons produces 1 kg of silk
8. Cambodian Silk is naturally yellow (the same colour as the silk worms) whilst more temperate climates such as China and Japan produce white silk
9. The Arstisans D’Angkor use all natural dyes (such as lavender or tree bark and rusty nails) to colour their silks
10. The Cambodian Silk Industry is worth about $2 billion a year world wide