Kikuo Morimoto has revived the ancient silk-making tradition from near-extinction in war-ravaged Cambodia, training new weavers and creating self-sustaining workshops.
Cultural knowledge and traditional skills were two of the lesser-known casualties of decades of conflict in Cambodia in the second half of the 20th century. During this period, a generation was deprived of the wisdom of the past, including the production of fine silk for which the country was famous.
We are now producing silk using natural materials obtained from our forest with great care for the environment. I believe that we have reached the point of being a sustainable village.
Japanese silk expert Kikuo Morimoto set out to revive the silk-making culture in Cambodia before it was lost forever and to provide a livelihood for hundreds of impoverished women and their families through his Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles.
In 2000, after years of hard work, he found a plot of land near the famous ruins of Angkor where he could bring weavers together, allowing them to bypass middlemen, and spend the months required to weave silk to master standards. Less than 20 years later, the plot of land has become a traditional silk village that attracts overseas visitors to buy the exquisite fabrics. Fifty houses are home to more than 150 permanent residents, with a school for 50 children. Morimoto’s vision of nurturing mulberry trees to feed silk worms and raising plants and trees to create the natural dyes has been more than fulfilled, with thousands of trees planted on the outskirts of the village.
Trees planted outside the village
Size of the settlement