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The ikat technique

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The Ikat Technique

Cambodian silk craftsmen and women use the traditional Ikat method to create and design the famous Cambodian pattern which called “Hôl Lboeuk”. In order to do so, skeins of silk are set up onto a tying-in frame. Strands are tied according to the patterns that are meant to be designed on the final fabric during the weaving process. After this tying-in process, the silk is taken from the frame for dyeing.

Ligatures and masking are used to prevent cross colouring or to keep certain parts un-dyed. The tying-in frame is then reset for the subsequent dyeing operations, enabling the weaver to produce traditional and complex designs. As mentioned before, the Ikat technique gives birth to the “Hôl Lboeuk” motifs after being woven, and the final fabrics are then made into scarves which are worn during official ceremonies in Cambodia.


Natural dyes can be prepared from a number of different trees’ barks, fruits, plants, leaves and resins. Those are boiled until the color appears and are then removed before the silk threads are soaked in the colored boiling water with an alum rock for about half an hour. The silk threads are then rinsed several times. During the last rinse water, an acid solution is added to set the color and eventually, the silk threads are dried under the sun.

It is important to note that natural dyes are not a perfect choice regarding the colors’ results because according to the seasons (sunny, rainy, variation of temperatures), these natural elements do not produce the same hues. Therefore, they do not provide the same tints to the silk scarves, clothing, accessories and home furnishings… Consequently, environmental-friendly artificial dyes are a better choice to guarantee the good quality of finished products.

In order to complete the process which creates the “Hôl Lboeuk” patterns, the artisans have to create the frame on which threads will be drawn-in. A weave is obtained by the complex intertwining of the warp threads and the weft threads. The warp threads are interlaced with the weft threads by passing each thread through the eye of the heddle where the warp is threaded through. Thus each heddle of a same frame will move in the same way and simultaneously.

Silk threads are now ready to be woven!

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