Carving Elephants in Cambodia
Artisans d’Angkor (though it seems to have dropped the d’ since I visited in 2006) was created to revive traditional Khmer cultural and arts while training young rural people in crafts they could produce in or near their home village. Established in 1992 by the Chantiers-Écoles de formation professionnelle (CEFP)—a professional training school sponsored by the National Cambodian Institution, the European Union and the French Foreign Ministry—the project originally provided free vocational training in the building sector. In the mid-1990s, the project expanded to include traditional Khmer art and crafts such as silk-making, stone and wood carving, lacquering and painting. In 1998 a European program called REPLIC provided financial support to create a project called “Artisans Angkor” as a workplace for the young Cambodians trained by CEFP in the handicraft sector. In 2003, with the support of the Agence Française de Développement (French Agency for Development), Artisans Angkor became an autonomous, semi-public Cambodian company. See Artisans Angkor Wikipedia entry for more information.
When I was in Siem Read, I toured both the main workshops, where this photo was taken, and the nearby Angkor Silk Farm. Their products are of high quality. My dollars were well spent!
Visit their website: http://www.artisansdangkor.com/ to find out more about the organization.