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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Siem Reap Day 1: Angkor Silk Farm

Siem Reap, Cambodia
Thursday, 9 Feb 2017


First destination for today’s activity. No entrance fee to Angkor Silk Farm. It’s free. Tapi nanti ada local guide yang akan approach korang once dah sampai. And no guide fee juga for the local guide but tipping is advisable. Bagi aku, bagus juga ada tour guide kat Angkor Silk Farm ni, at least dia orang akan explain step by step process on the silk making. Kalau tour without the guide, maybe tak berapa nak faham nanti sebab ada sequence dalam farm ni yang kena follow in order to understand the process better.

Sutera berasal daripada kepompong rama-rama (cocoon). Nama saintifiknya Bombyx Mori. Terhasil daripada ulat putih (ulat sutera) yang memintal kepompong sutera. Kepompong akan dimasukkan ke dalam air panas yang mendidih kemudian dipintal menjadi benang. Setiap kepompong dapat menghasilkan 300 sehingga 900 meter panjang. Seterusnya, benang sutera tersebut akan ditenun menjadi kain.

Pada awalnya, sutera merupakan produk kerajaan China atau Tiongkok. Sutera mula dikenal di Cina sejak sekitar tahun 2700 SM. Hanya bangsa Cina yang mengetahui rahsia pembuatan sutera selama berabad-abad. Siapapun yang membocorkan cara pembuatan sutera akan dibunuh dan dilabelkan sebagai seorang pengkhianat. Disebabkan inilah, harga sutera menjadi sangat mahal, bahkan sebanding dengan emas pada masa itu. Lalu pada tahun 550 M, Kerajaan Romawi Timur atau Bizantium yang bernama Justinian I mengirim 2 biarawan yang menyamar sebagai pengintip ke negeri Cina. Mereka berjaya mengambil ulat sutera dari negeri Cina dan mengetahui cara membuat sutera pada tahun 552 M. Sejak saat itu, sutera bukan lagi dimonopoli oleh Kerajaan Cina. Sejak saat itu, sutera dikembangkan di seluruh wilayah Kerajaan Romawi dan tersebar ke seluruh dunia. Di Malaysia, sutera mula dikenal sejak abad kesepuluh. (source)


History

According to well-established Chinese legend, Empress Hsi Ling Shi, wife of Emperor Huang Ti (also called the Yellow Emperor), was the first person to accidentally discover silk as weavable fiber. One day, when the empress was sipping tea under a mulberry tree, a cocoon fell into her cup and began to unravel. The empress became so enamored with the shimmering threads, she discovered their source, the Bombyx mori silkworm found in the white mulberry. The empress soon developed sericulture, the cultivation of silkworms, and invented the reel and loom. Thus, began the history of silk. (wikipedia)


Let's start the silk-making process tour

Angkor Silk Farm is surrounded by 5 hectares of mulberry trees plantation. These fields are the starting point of the whole process of silk-making as silk worms will eat and grow on them. The trees can grow two meters tall and branches are cut four times a year. Mulberry leaves are silkworms' favourite food and will be eaten for weeks. During the last days, silkworms can eat ten times a day.


The mulberry trees. 
These fields are the starting point of the whole process of silk-making as silk worms will eat and grow on them

The silkworms and mulberry leaves are placed on trays

When the worms have grown enough, they are put in baskets. From there, they will spin their cocoons in five days and will produce about three hundreds meters of silk each. The cocoons are then put in sunlight to avoid them undergoing their metamorphosis into mature moths. However, 20% of them reach the breeding process and the female moths will lay and hatch its eggs within nine to twelve days.


Silkworm eating mulberry leaves

The cocoons

The inner is the fine silk (high quality) whereas the outside is the raw silk (low quality silk)

Cocoon lifecycle

The cocoons are then put in sunlight to avoid them undergoing their metamorphosis into mature moths

The cocoons are soaked in hot water in order to soften the sericin (also known as silk gum) which coat the fibres and stick the cocoons together. Silk threads are then unwound and reeled together to produce a single thread. Weavers at Angkor Silk Farm make both raw silk and fine silk that do not have the same texture at all. Sericin has not been completely removed from raw silk threads, which will give a rougher texture to the fabric at the end. 


The cocoons are soaked in hot water in order to soften the sericin (also known as silk gum) which coat the fibres and stick the cocoons together.

The spinning process

The worms need to be inside the cocoon during the spinning process of silk making. If the cocoon breaks, the cocoon cannot be used anymore. Nampak tak complicated nya.

Silk thread from the cocoon

Silk thread in the making

The raw silk

Fixing the raw silk

The silk is then dyed by putting natural materials or artificial and environmentally friendly dyes in boiling water. The dyeing process has to be renewed several times as artisans weave silk fabrics in the old way through the Ikat technique.
(source: wikipedia)


The silk is then dyed by putting natural materials or artificial

Traditional method still the best way in here

Further silk making process

Still using the traditional method

The Ikat technique (also called "chong kiet" in khmer). The employee meticulously tightening-up knots to protect some parts from dyes. The process will create the pattern.

Most of the employees here were the young Cambodian from remote rural areas. Artisans Angkor has given them training and at the end provide them with employment in this silk industry.


Place where the final products of silk is produced

The tour concludes in a large shop offering colorful silks and other products. The shop’s offerings are spectacular but not cheap, which ought to be no surprise after seeing how much skilled hand labor goes into real silk production. Overall tour is less than an hour.


Tour akan berakhir di sini... boleh lah nak shopping kepada yang mampu

Final product of the silk

Kami tak shopping apa pun. Cuci mata jer. Kalau ikut nafsu, memang teringin tapi apakan daya dollar hanya cover untuk perkara wajib sahaja. Anyway, it's good place to visit. Educational & informative. Interesting than you might expect. At the end of the tour, it makes you appreciate why silk is no cheap commodity.

Sutera juga disebut 7X di dalam Al-Quran. Kalau korang ikuti tafsir Al-Quran di Ikim.fm, last Friday, ada tafsir dari surah Al-Insan mengenai sutera.

Al-Insaan ayat 12

"Dan Dia memberi balasan kepada mereka karena kesabaran mereka (dengan) surga dan (pakaian) sutera"

Al-Insaan ayat 21

"Mereka memakai pakaian sutera halus yang hijau dan sutera tebal dan dipakaikan kepada mereka gelang terbuat dari perak, dan Tuhan memberikan kepada mereka minuman yang bersih"


Mulianya sutera sehingga diangkat Allah SWT sebagai pakaian di Syurga.


To be continued...


1 comment:

  1. tak tau plak yang angkor wat ada this silk farm. kinda interesting place to drop by

    ReplyDelete

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