Artisans d'Angkor is a unique project, and not only thanks to the small shop which, offering a selection of the very best of Cambodian craftsmanship - from woodcarvings and stone objects to silk -, is an excellent place for souvenirs. Artisans d'Angkor was founded in 1998 as a three-year project sponsored by the Cambodian Ministry of Education, French Foreign Office and the EU. Its main objective was supporting and promoting Khmer art and culture, educating (Artisans d'Angkor has its own school) and providing with jobs rural youngsters interested in traditional crafts. Today the project has transformed into a self-financing organisation and evolved to become an actual movement. Some 40 % of Artisans d'Angkor craftsmen work in their native villages. That is one of the objectives of the project: saving the provincial areas of Cambodia from depopulation, at least to some extent: the scope of young people leaving home and concentrating in the major cities is one of the most serious problems in this country.
The rest of the artisans work at the Artisans d'Angkor workshops in Siem Reap, offering the visitors to Cambodia a unique opportunity to acquaint themselves with the Khmer culture and its traditions. Each of the five workshops at the complex is dedicated to a different craft, from wood and stone carving to silk weaving. The moment you set foot inside the premises, you are approached by an English speaking guide who will be happy to explain the smallest detail of each process. It goes without saying that everything you can buy at the adjoining shop is handmade and conforms to the highest quality standards. What's more - like any object created by the hands of a true master, these are all things endowed with a soul. It's only at first glance that all these stacks of bright silk pillowcases or rows of wood figurines may seem identical; take a closer look and you will notice lots of tiny distinctions, so typical of handmade objects. There are 686 artisans and 130 apprentices currently working at Artisans d'Angkor.
Keywords: Siemreap, shop