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Over the click-clack of the teak loom, Niphon's family laments the lack of apprentice weavers at his Bangkok silk shop, as modernity lures young Muslims away from a trade their community has dominated for generations. They say they are the last of the Muslim weavers of Baan Krua, a storied neighborhood of dilapidated wooden houses and a mosque in downtown Bangkok, nearly engulfed by the city creep of condos and skyscrapers.The craft was passed down through generations of ethnic Cham Muslim women who migrated from Cambodia centuries ago and perfected the art of turning the cocoons made by Thai silkworms into meters of soft cloth with a unique sheen coveted across the world.At its peak Niphon's family employed 50 people, producing thousands of meters of silk a month.The largest number are descendants of ethnic Malay peoples from the southern Thai provinces bordering Malaysia who were brought to Bangkok as slave labor, according to Raymond Scupin, a cultural anthropologist at Lindenwood University.
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