Gifts from Southeast Asia

My wonderful, amazing, sweet, gorgeous husband not only took photos of places that would interest me during his trip, he also brought back a few mementos.

Woven Baskets 1
The woven tube contains a sample of raw yellow silk. He picked up this souvenir at the Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles (IKTT) in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Raw Silk 2
The small woven box contained these small pottery bowls. These came from a ceramics factory in Chiangmai, Thailand.

Small Pottery 3
This yarn is made in Thailand. My husband found a yarn shop in the Farong District, the old part of Bangkok. The original Mandarin Oriental Hotel is located in the Farong District. Around this area are countless craftsmen specializing in silk, silver, gems, antiquities and other items.

Yarn Made in Thailand 4
This is a beautiful silk scarf from the museum shop at the Jim Thompson House in Bangkok.

Jim Thompson Silk Scarf 5 Silk Scarf from Bangkok 6
Even the packaging it came in is beautiful. The paper envelope is imprinted with scenes of the silk-making process.

Silk Scarf Packaging 7
He picked this up during his visit to Chiangmai in northern Thailand. This silk scarf is from Jolie Femme, a Thai silk factory.

Butterfly Silk Scarf 8
This crumpled silk scarf is from the Old Market in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Crumpled Silk Scarf 9
Finally, he brought these two illustrated books that tell the history of the Thai silk industry. The Thai Silk Sketch Book contains beautiful watercolors depicting the reeling, spinning, dyeing and weaving of silk textiles. The House on the Klong is a lovely picture book about the art collected by Jim Thompson over his lifetime and which is now on display at his home turned museum.

Jim Thompson Books 10
I may not have been there but he made sure to give me a sense of the place through photographs, retelling what he saw, and bringing these lovely things to make me smile.

Tie-Dyed Textiles in Cambodia

During his trip to Southeast Asia, my husband purposefully visited a couple of textile factories knowing that I would be interested in knowing about local crafts. The first place he toured was the Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles (IKTT) in Siem Reap Angkor, Kingdom of Cambodia. There, he walked the shop floor and took the following photographs of local women artisans spinning, dyeing and weaving traditional Cambodian textiles.

IKTT 5

IKTT 1

The raw yellow silk is reeled from cocoons of the same golden color. I initially thought the golden silk thread had been dyed but it is actually in its natural form. You can read more about yellow raw silk here.

IKTT 2

IKTT has also embarked on preserving and regenerating a natural forest in Siem Reap. The undertaking includes cultivating plants and trees that can be used as natural dyes.

IKTT aims to restore the art of creating traditional Cambodian textiles and has established a village project called PROJECT OF WISDOM FROM THE FOREST where 140 IKTT staff currently live growing trees to be used in silk-worm raising and the natural dying of fabric. We offer job opportunities to disadvantaged women and are working to preserve the national heritage for younger generation[s].

IKTT 3

These scarves are hand knit out of 100% pure silk and sold at market.

IKTT 4

His next tour was at the Angkor Silk Farm located approximately an hour outside of Siem Reap. Run by Artisans Angkor, they cultivate Mulberry trees at the farm and continue the traditions of Khmer arts and crafts such as weaving silk textiles, stone and wood carving, and silk painting.

Here, a young woman heats up the cocoons as she reels the silk threads from them. I will spare you the photograph of the platter of silk worms my husband shared with me.

Artisans Angkor 1

The ikat technique, or tie-dyeing of the silk threads, requires meticulous attention to detail. The term “ikat” means “to bind, tie or wrap around.” This young woman is tying a pattern onto the silk threads. My husband tells me that they would work off a picture or another textile to create the pattern.

Artisans Angkor 3

After tying the knots, they would submerge the textile into large dye pots to pick up the desired color. Once dry, they would untie the knots and dye the fabric again. This process would continue until they achieved the pattern and color palette they wanted.

Artisans Angkor 4

Artisans Angkor 2

Apparently, some of the textiles are so beautiful that they are displayed as art and even framed in glass to protect them.

Artisans Angkor 5

I would love to spend a month or two in one of these factories and sit next to these women reeling, dyeing and weaving. Perhaps one day …

The Temple of Angkor Wat

Here is a view of Angkor Wat through my husband’s eyes.

Ankor Wat is the largest Hindu temple and the largest religious monument in the world. It was built in the early 12th Century and covers over 400 square kilometers of land.
Ankor Wat is the largest Hindu temple and the largest religious monument in the world. It was built in the early 12th Century and covers over 400 square kilometers of land.

Relief of Hindu deities.
Relief of Hindu deities.

Large face on the walls at Angkor Wat.
Large face on the walls at Angkor Wat.

Some of the many temple ruins. Do you see the faces?
Some of the many temple ruins. Do you see the faces?

Monks care for the ancient temple. According to my husband, monks hold a place of honor. He saw people give up their seats for them at the front of busses and the people feed them every day.
Monks care for the ancient temple. According to my husband, monks hold a place of honor. He saw people give up their seats for them at the front of busses and the people feed them every day.

Nature will have its way.
Nature will have its way.

A basket wholesaler carries his wares to vendors in the city.
A basket wholesaler carries his wares to vendors in the city.

My husband says it took about three days to see the complex.
My husband says it took about three days to see the complex.

There was a row of these giant statues along the bridge.
There was a row of these giant statues along the bridge.

The forest continues to swallow up the temple.
The forest continues to swallow up the temple.

To learn more, visit the Angkor Wat UNESCO World Heritage site.