Handmade on the Silk Road

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The Weaver

Series 1 - Episode 1 The Weaver



A companion piece to BBC4’s new Silk Road documentary, this charming little series on the Road’s craftspeople benefits from no voiceover or celebrity endorsement, just the occasional subtitle. In the first episode, we’re in Hotan, north-west China, home to the Uyghur ethnic community, where one of the local specialities is brilliantly colourful tie-dyed Atlas silk.

Weaver Mattursun Islam has a repertoire of more than 200 designs, and we see him and his family – there’s some good-humoured banter with his wife – prepare the silk for dyeing. It’s an ancient and surprisingly complex process, with the only concession to modernity being the use of black plastic ties and mechanised looms, although Mattursun still occasionally reverts to the hand loom, with its reassuring clack, that he built himself.


Documentary series focusing on the traditional crafts along the ancient trade route of the Silk Road, capturing the techniques used by master craftspeople at work. The first edition is set in North West China, where the Uyghur community has been making Atlas silk for thousands of years. It follows a weaver, Mattursun Islam, and his family as they continue the tradition and produce silk in over 200 designs in a small workshop.

Cast & Crew

Director Jon Morrice
Executive Producer Richard Bright
Producer Jon Morrice