The ancient Cambodian silk that was almost lost

Golden silk has run through Cambodia's history for centuries, and Sophea Pheach is helping to ensure that it is also woven into the country's future.

Not far from the ancient city of Angkor, a short drive from Siem Reap takes you along Cambodia’s old “Silk Road”. It weaves through country villages, past lush green rice paddies and into the heart of what was once the centre of the country’s sericulture (the cultivation of silkworms to produce silk) and weaving industry.

Ikat weaving – a process that involves creating a pattern by wrapping sections of yarn before it is dyed and woven into fabric – from Cambodia’s unique golden silk dates back more than 1,000 years to the Khmer Empire, which flourished from the 9th to 15th Centuries. Silk-making techniques, which created intricate fabrics worn by Cambodian royalty, were passed from mother to daughter. But, like so many traditional crafts and skills, these spinning and weaving traditions were almost lost during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s.

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