Revival of the golden silk

24 August 2013

I have discovered the existence of silk with a golden color; it is produced by a rare, endangered species of silkworms and it can be found especially in the North-East area of Cambodia. This worm produces less silk yarn than the usual worm producing white silk and the yarn appears to be thicker and more resistant.

Pheach Oum told me how she had founded Golden Silk in 2002 and how she is committed, with energy and passion, in reviving the glories of  silk in its purest tradition through a humanitarian, artistic and cultural heritage project. The goal is to produce and design fabrics which will pass through centuries, exceptional pieces of art, while providing knowledge and a regular income for men and women coming from poor rural areas.

Pheach Oum is a Cambodian woman. After her studies in France, she has decided to return to her country, determined to help as much as possible the victims of the civil war and mainly the orphans. She then got involved in building a training center for weaving and she has since then carried this eco-responsible project on her shoulders, with an impressive determination.

To maintain this heritage and this jewel of Khmer culture is a priority for her, being a former director of the National Silk Center. The patterns used on ikat pieces are inspired by drawings of the ancient Angkor temples which are settled close to the Golden Silk farm workshop. Pheac Oum is a purist and she is determined to teach techniques and skills of ancient tradition, from spinning to weaving, in the respect of nature.

Each piece is woven and hand-dyed with natural and eco-friendly pigments, giving it a unique value. Time does not count in the making of each of these fabrics. Some ikat pieces need over one year of work to be finished, between the knotting, the yarn dyeing and the weaving final step of patterns of great complexity.

Lost in the middle of the countryside, the weaving workshop exhales peace and light. You can feel the deep devotion to the beauty of this production process, from the golden silk yarn to the ikat fabric.

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