Silk Farm

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
Trip End May 30, 2013

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Where I stayed
Jasmine Lodge Siem Reap
Read my review - 2/5 stars
What I did
Artisan's Angkor Silk Farm
Temple Balcony Apsara Show

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Silk, one of the mysteries of the East. You can buy it for 100's of dollars in fancy shops and 'authentic Cambodian' in the markets for cheap. What is it all about? So I went to a silk farm to find out.

What a fascinating process! Went to this great place that actually shuttled you out and took you on a VIP tour (probably thinking you're going to buy vast amount of silk – ooops, sorry, didn't get THAT memo...!).

It all starts with the Mulberry tree which is what the silkworms eat. There are several different species of worm, but they all eat the same thing. The Cambodian silk worms spin a golden cocoon. In the interest of preserving as much silk as possible, the worms are kept inside and the leaves are brought to them. 

The mating process takes 12 hours (you can imagine Brian's comments to this yourself) after which the male dies (more comments). Female lays the eggs and dies. After growing and  changing for about 24 days the larvae are starting to spin their cocoons.

Each cocoon has about 400 metres of filament in it. What a delicate process to unwind them and stringing enough pieces together to make something durable.

Several different systems of spooling the tread take place before and after it's been dyed.

Then finally it can go to the looms and be woven. In Cambodia, everything is done by hand and it is a very long process (I guess it's good labour is still quite cheap). Most weavers will work 8 hour shift and if they're good, might accomplish 2 metres of fabric.

Very expensive fabric, yet considering the process involved, it's very cheap.

Later that evening, we went to see silk in it's finest display while watching a traditional Apsara dance show. So graceful, so DO they get their fingers to do that?

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