Andre Akito

February 21 , 2021

Hội An Silk Village

Once a major trading port in Southeast Asia, the city of Hội An is strongly linked with the silk and tailoring industry. This tradition, that started during the Silk Read period, lasts until today. The silk industry in Vietnam employed thousands of workers, many of them in the central region of the country. For many centuries, Hội An was considered a hub for high quality silk products in Asia, exporting its products all over Asia and Europe. 

For many families, tailoring was considered a tradition as well, passing from generation to generation. Until today, it is possible to find many tailors around Hội An ancient town. In the midst of countless tailors, Hội An Silk Village was established 300 years ago and used to be home to many craftspeople who created products solely via silkworm farming and production.

The process starts with silkworm caterpillars, which produce cocoons full of silk. After that, it is necessary to extract silk threads from cocoons using a traditional boiling and spinning machine. Once the silk thread is extracted and spun into a single thread, it goes through further processing of boiling and dying. Finally, artisans weave silk into various garments and tapestries using ancient looms.

Nevertheless, the village became unprofitable and closed its doors almost 100 years ago because of competition and also because of declining interest in artisanal silk products. Additionally, international trade started to flow to its neighbor city Da Nang, which made exports even more difficult.

However, Hội An Silk Village eventually reopened its doors a decade ago in an effort to reignite interest and preserve the history of silk production in Hội An, which is central to the city’s identity. In February 2021, I had the chance to visit and observe the artisanal process of silk production in the village. Not only the process is beautiful to watch but so are the results.

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