Old style production of silk and paper

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We only have a short drive today from Ranomafana to the little town of Ambalavao. We drive through the pretty country side where we can watch the local life as we drive along. There are the small houses along the road which looks not to be of the best quality and the local traffic is a bit slower than what we are used to from home. The local traffic is mostly made up of people walking carrying stuff on their head – just with the different pushcarts to mix it up a bit.


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We arrive at around lunch time at the place so we have plenty of time to see some stuff in the city. The cities in Madagascar generally aren’t the most interesting places to go and visit so we don’t go out to explore the architecture.

Instead we head out to find a little complex which is home to a little local production of silk. I always thought that silk was native to china where the little caterpillars made cocoons out of a tiny thread which could be made into silk. It turns out there is other small worms which can make a thin thread which can be made into silk or at least something pretty similar.

I guess with all the special wildlife you on this island it shouldn’t come as a big surprise they also got their own version of the silk worm. They give a quick tour of the place and show the process of the production. It is a pretty lengthy process and they really haven’t done anything to make it less labor intensive. I guess when the daily pay in the country is a fraction of the hourly minimum wages in Europe or North America there isn’t much reason to cut down on the labor used in the production.

Most of the production is done by women who weave different cloths of the silk when it has gone through the process from a little cocoon to the final thread. Of course the tour ends in a little sales room where you can buy the finished products. The prices are not quite as low as you might expect and hope if you are looking for a scarf – and it they might claim it was silk but for me it didn’t feel as soft and smooth as the traditional silk is.

After checking out the silk production we head back to our hotel. The hotel is a pretty traditional hotel with rooms and bungalows – but in the back of the hotel they actually have a little factory going. Back there they make paper. The paper doesn’t look like traditional paper – it got a more rough appearance.

In the rooms of the factory there are some ladies – there is no guide showing you around you can just go in and if you want you can leave a small donation in a little basket. The ladies took the rough paper and made it into small booklets with real dry flowers laid into the paper. The paper looked pretty and quite different from traditional paper.

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You couldn’t buy the paper directly from the ladies but there was a small shop at the hotel where you could by the local products for a reasonable price.


  1. Another write up about your travels and this time it seems there was quite some time to look around. It is interesting to hear the cities in Madagascar lack things to see and do – maybe they really are low-key cities that don’t seek to put on a show for locals or tourists. The silk tour sounded like a highlight of the day. The silk might not be as soft as other silk but it’s certainly made with careful technique and made from the heart 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How fascinating, Freja and thank you for sharing. As individuals, we can only explore so much of the Earth, but I’ve been able to expand my understanding of it exponentially through reading posts like yours and seeing the photos etc.
    xx Rowena

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  3. Wow! Thank you for sharing! Madagascar looks like such an incredible place to visit. I’ve subconciously focused more on the fascinating wildlife that lives there than the amazing opportunities to connect with the locals and communities. Really interesting to hear more about that aspect of the Island! Hopefully someday soon we can spend some time exploring in Madagascar. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Thank you – I hope you get to go and explore this amazing island in the not too distant future. For me the wildlife was the most interesting, but the local life was interesting to observe. I don’t speak french so couldn’t talk to the locals since only the people with education or in tourist industry know english.


  4. Thank you for taking me with you on this tour. It seems like they use the same technique the small operation of some local Chinese used to get the silk. They put the cocoon in the boiling water until the silk expands, find the end, and pull out the entire strand. I watched it in a small village in China. The paper products are interesting also. A very nice tour, Freja. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy you enjoy seeing the island of Madagascar through my eyes 🙂 You are probably right when you say you saw something similar in China. I guess the traditional production of silk is similar whereever on the globe it is performed.

      Liked by 1 person

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