Neakru and her weaving apprentices

25 August 2013

Neakru teaches weaving in the “Soieries du Mekong” center, opened in 2001 in the idea of proposing an activity to women living in villages around Banteay Chhmar in northern Cambodia near Thailand.

Her role is central at the production workshop. The young women who wish to join the structure set up by Soieriesdu Mekong will have to undergo classes for about six months before taking again six months of practical training. Neakru is there to teach those apprentices the basics and all the subtleties of hand weaving. She has joined the team more than ten years ago. The province of Banteay Manchey was a producing region for silk and cotton before the havoc of the civil war and there are only a few people left with the knowledge of weaving in the area.

Neakru is a child of the region. She grew up in Phnom Srok, 80 km from Banteay Chmar and it was her mother who taught her weaving. She then left for Siem Reap to study at the National Centre for Silk in Puok.

Banteay Chmar is a village where the main activity is agriculture, including the growing of cassava. By becoming weavers, village women can bring an additional source of income to their families and gain a more respected status inside their house. Once trained, they can install a loom at home and work from there while taking care of their children. For those who find more convenient to come to the workshop, Neakru provides them some advices and she makes sure everything goes smoothly.

She is also in charge of developing prototypes of brand new silk pieces. She will be warping yarns and test some new weaves to develop scarves that will enrich future collections of Soieries du Mekong. Weaving is a work of patience and precision and that is what Neakru is willing to transmit to her students. Since 2001, more than seventy weavers have been trained in this exceptional knowhow.

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