Rich Cultural Heritage

Cambodia is a country extremely rich in tangible and intangible cultural heritage. A rich cultural heritage is a testament to the long and proud history dating back many centuries of the Khmer people. Over the years, the Khmer people developed a set of unique tradition from the syncretism of indigenous Buddhism and Hinduism. They have been raised to respect their culture and are very traditional in their way of life. In November 2003 and 2005, Apsara Dance "the Royal Ballet of Cambodia" and Lkhoan Sbek Thom "the big shadow puppet" are listed in UNESCO World Heritage.

Apsara Dance

"the Royal Ballet of Cambodia" - a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity Date of Proclamation: November 2003.

The Royal Ballet of Cambodia or Apsara Dance is a highly stylized art form was once confined mainly to the courts of the royal palace and performed mainly by females for the purpose of entertainment as well as ceremonial propitiation. It is the dominant genre of dance theatre in Cambodia that features the classical dance style. The repertoire includes dances of tribute or invocation and the enactment of traditional stories.

The dancers of this classical form are often referred to as Apsara dancers. This dance form was first introduced to foreign countries and best known during the 1960s as the Khmer Royal Ballet. The first royal ballerina was Princess Norodom Bopha Devi, a daughter of King Norodom Sihanouk. The Apsara Dance is particularly inspired by te style from around more than a thousand Apsara carvings in the Angkor temple complex. As evidenced in part by these Apsaras (celesial dancers), dance has been part of the Khmer culture for more than a millennium. A visit to Cambodia is only complete when one has attended at least one such traditional dance performance.


Apsara dance

 Lkhoan Sbek Thom

"the big shadow puppet" - a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity Date of Proclamation: November 2005. 

Sbek Thom is a form of play performance using puppets with the effect of shadow. The puppets are made of leather (usually cow-hide). The artisan uses a large white backdrop in front of a big fire (now, they use projector alternatively) to show the shadow of the puppets on. It seems like an animator on TV. There are two main genres of Khmer shadow theatre: Sbek Thom and Sbek Por. In 2005, the UNESCO officially recognized Sbek Thom as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.


The Folk Dances