Photos: Keeping the thread alive at a silk making village in Vietnam

Dozens of workers, mostly women, fill the bustling workshops in Vietnam's Co Chat village, stirring vats filled with silkworm cocoons, gently unwinding the fibre from the cocoons through clouds of rising steam. Many households here have been in the trade of delicately separating silk from cocoons and turning it into threads that are them sent to other South East Asian countries. While some have adapted to technology, the majority choose to unwind the cocoons using chopsticks, even if it means sweating through the summer heat.

Updated On Sep 24, 2019 03:35 PM IST 10 Photos
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A worker collects yellow silk threads on a bobbin inside a workshop in Co Chat village in Nam Dinh province. Cocoons bob over boiling water as silk is rapidly teased out, spinning on reels under the watchful gaze of women hard at work in Vietnam's Co Chat village, where households have been making thread for more than a century. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

A worker collects yellow silk threads on a bobbin inside a workshop in Co Chat village in Nam Dinh province. Cocoons bob over boiling water as silk is rapidly teased out, spinning on reels under the watchful gaze of women hard at work in Vietnam's Co Chat village, where households have been making thread for more than a century. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

Updated on Sep 24, 2019 03:35 PM IST
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Silkworms cocoons kept in baskets outside a workshop in Co Chat village. The village in Nam Dinh province, two hours south of the capital Hanoi, is nearing the end of silk production season. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

Silkworms cocoons kept in baskets outside a workshop in Co Chat village. The village in Nam Dinh province, two hours south of the capital Hanoi, is nearing the end of silk production season. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

Updated on Sep 24, 2019 03:35 PM IST
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A worker separates yellow silkworm cocoons. Dozens of workers, mostly women, in the bustling workshops stir the vats, gently unwinding the fibre from the cocoons through clouds of rising steam. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

A worker separates yellow silkworm cocoons. Dozens of workers, mostly women, in the bustling workshops stir the vats, gently unwinding the fibre from the cocoons through clouds of rising steam. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

Updated on Sep 24, 2019 03:35 PM IST
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Silk threads are collected on to spools from yellow cocoons that have been boiled. Once the yellow and white fibres are spun onto wooden reels, workers hang them in the sun to dry. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

Silk threads are collected on to spools from yellow cocoons that have been boiled. Once the yellow and white fibres are spun onto wooden reels, workers hang them in the sun to dry. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

Updated on Sep 24, 2019 03:35 PM IST
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Silk threads hung out to dry in the compound of a home in Co Chat village. “Production from the silkworm cocoons depends 90% on the weather,” said workshop owner Pham Van Ba, whose family has been spinning thread for three generations. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

Silk threads hung out to dry in the compound of a home in Co Chat village. “Production from the silkworm cocoons depends 90% on the weather,” said workshop owner Pham Van Ba, whose family has been spinning thread for three generations. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

Updated on Sep 24, 2019 03:35 PM IST
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White silk thread yarns are hung out to dry as Pham Van Ba, 56, carries ones that have dried. “Our products will be ruined” if it’s not dried under the sun, he told AFP, explaining that even good quality thread can be marred by inclement weather. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

White silk thread yarns are hung out to dry as Pham Van Ba, 56, carries ones that have dried. “Our products will be ruined” if it’s not dried under the sun, he told AFP, explaining that even good quality thread can be marred by inclement weather. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

Updated on Sep 24, 2019 03:35 PM IST
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A worker checks on yarns of white and yellow silk collected to dry in an open courtyard. Around 30 kilograms of cocoons are processed by each worker every day, and the final threads are sold to traders exporting to Laos and Thailand. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

A worker checks on yarns of white and yellow silk collected to dry in an open courtyard. Around 30 kilograms of cocoons are processed by each worker every day, and the final threads are sold to traders exporting to Laos and Thailand. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

Updated on Sep 24, 2019 03:35 PM IST
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A worker collecting dried silk thread yarns for reeling. While a few households have invested in modern silk-reeling machines, the majority choose to unwind the cocoons using chopsticks, even if it means sweating through the summer heat in stuffy workshops. Doing it manually makes it easier to salvage usable silk thread from cocoons even if they are not good, Ba said. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

A worker collecting dried silk thread yarns for reeling. While a few households have invested in modern silk-reeling machines, the majority choose to unwind the cocoons using chopsticks, even if it means sweating through the summer heat in stuffy workshops. Doing it manually makes it easier to salvage usable silk thread from cocoons even if they are not good, Ba said. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

Updated on Sep 24, 2019 03:35 PM IST
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A worker spinning finished silk thread bobbins at a workshop. Each labourer earns around $10 a day, but worker Tran Thi Hien describes the work as “precarious”. “If the market price goes up, then we make some profit. Otherwise, it’s only enough to cover our expenses,” the 37-year-old said. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

A worker spinning finished silk thread bobbins at a workshop. Each labourer earns around $10 a day, but worker Tran Thi Hien describes the work as “precarious”. “If the market price goes up, then we make some profit. Otherwise, it’s only enough to cover our expenses,” the 37-year-old said. (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

Updated on Sep 24, 2019 03:35 PM IST
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Finished silk threads are wheeled into a storehouse in Co Chat village. Like others in the village, Hien worries about the future of the industry with many youngsters lured by a city lifestyle in nearby Nam Dinh. “My kids tell me this job is too hard,” she said. “They will find other jobs instead.” (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

Finished silk threads are wheeled into a storehouse in Co Chat village. Like others in the village, Hien worries about the future of the industry with many youngsters lured by a city lifestyle in nearby Nam Dinh. “My kids tell me this job is too hard,” she said. “They will find other jobs instead.” (Manan Vatsyayana / AFP)

Updated on Sep 24, 2019 03:35 PM IST
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