Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Reviving a lost heritage


Tuesday October 7, 2008

ARTISANS d’Angkor is an arts-and-crafts Cambodian company dedicated to preserving and reviving the country’s traditional savoir-faire.

Its focuses mainly on ornamental sculpture, lacquerware, silk weaving and silk painting.
Silk cushions and threads at the Artisans d’ Angkor flagship store in Siem Reap.

Workshops like the Angkor Silk Farm in the Puok district and the Chantiers-Écoles in downtown Siem Reap are open to the public.

According to its website, Artisans d’Angkor promotes fair and sustainable development of Cambodian arts and crafts which benefits rural communities.

It provides training for young locals, enabling them to redisco­ver lost ancient talents and make a living out of their skills while working in their home villages.

In more recent times, years of war and genocide had decimated a great number of heirs of these artistic traditions. With them, disappeared a vast body of skills and expertise.

The Chantiers-Écoles, a professional training school, was thus founded to help young Cambodians rediscover traditional handicraft and give them the opportunity to take part in their country’s rebuilding process.

The Artisans d’Angkor was established as a natural offshoot of the Chantiers-Écoles project as a school-to-work transition for young, trained craftsmen.

Over the years, since its establishment, it has created over 1,000 job opportunities for Cambodians in the 12 workshops it operates in Siem Reap.

It has also pioneered a new social policy in Cambodia with guaranteed levels of pay along with social and medical benefits.

As for the craftsmen, they have formed an association known as Artisanat Khmer, which holds a 20% share in the company.

Artisans d’Angkor hopes that by promoting Cambodian traditional savoir-faire, it helps to instil the pride of Cambodian people in their roots while giving them a sense of dignity for a better future.

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