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Sophal Try [ Workshop Alumni ]


The IKTT specialises in the revival of the Cambodian silk ikat. Throughout history Khmer silk weaving has been regarded among the best in the world, however after years of war this ancient art form was almost lost. The beauty of such silk has been its saviour. Having started in 1996 by Kikuo Morimoto, we take a purist approach to the reproduction of traditional textiles, not just by recreating the style but also by following the traditional practice seen a thousand years ago in the ancient times of the Angkor Dynasty. This has meant the planting of a traditional forest where everything from the natural dyes to the silk can be harvested in the rich natural environment.

The traditional Khmer lifestyle and culture in Cambodia was disrupted for a quarter of a century during the reign of Commander-in-Chief Lon Nol ( 1970-1975), the Khmer Rouge(1975-1979), and Vietnamese intervention in 1979 until the foundation of the transitional government in 1993. Among those traditions affected, the old Cambodian art of woven cloth was one of them.
Now a number of young weavers are being born into the art and the traditional textile culture is being received in Takeo and in Kompong Cham. However the distribution is totally in the hands of middlemen, who supply weavers with raw silk. The weavers’ pay is low, so they try to produce as many cloths as possible to make the most possible money.

High standard sericulture is vital for fine weaving. However, my research found out that traditional silkworm raising had almost died out in Cambodia apart from a few villages in Kampot. I, together with people from the villages, set forth on a mission to revive traditional sericulture.. Some old tools had been preserved , and most importantly , some elderly people who remembered the techniques still there.
As a result of my effort to rejuvenate the Cambodian textiles tradition, a restored natural environment is vital for the survival of traditional culture. Traditional exists together with nature, a relationship which will never change.

Morimoto Kikuo
, Institute For Khmer Traditional Textiles