23.05.2011 -

The Royal Ballet of Cambodia

The Royal Ballet of Cambodia Proclaimed

Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity with UNESCO

Phnom Penh, 7 November 2003 - Today, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO, has proclaimed the Royal Ballet of Cambodia a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage. Following the inscription of the Historic Site of Angkor, as a World Heritage Site, Khmer classical dance is now also part of the heritage of humanity.

This international distinction honours the most remarkable examples of oral traditions and forms of cultural expression in all regions of the world. Through this definitive and prompt action, the programme underlines the importance of safeguarding and protecting oral and intangible heritage.

During the First Proclamation in 2001, 19 Masterpieces were given recognition; among them were the Nôgaku theatre from Japan and the Sanskrit theatre, Kutiyattam from India. Today for the Second Proclamation, 28 Masterpieces, including the Cambodian Royal Ballet, have received this distinction, out of the 56 applications submitted.

The decision to submit the application for Khmer classical dance dates from 2001. In 2002, a group of experts and artists worked, under the authority of H.R.H. Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts and former first dancer of the Royal Ballet. Documents were produced to prove the outstanding value of Khmer classical dance and to formulate a detailed action plan for the future.

After submission to UNESCO, various international experts of intangible heritage evaluated the applications. Following their recommendations, the Director General of UNESCO has proclaimed Khmer classical dance a Masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage of humanity. This international recognition is, first of all, great encouragement for the future. It will open new possibilities for national and international cooperation and cultural exchanges. This inscription is also homage to the work accomplished by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, the various dancers, musicians and all the artists.

This event is a milestone in the action to safeguard and promote Khmer classical dance and Cambodian intangible heritage. To celebrate this, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts will organise towards the end of November a special ceremony including a performance of Khmer classical dance and other activities. Furthermore, in the future, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts plans to submit other applications, including one for masked theatre or lakhaon khol, big shadow puppet or sbeque thom, the work of the silversmith's or cheang prak, Khmer traditional silk and the traditional story tellers chapei.

For further information on the Proclamation of Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, please see:

  • UNESCO's website: http://www.unesco.org
  • H.E. Prof. Hang Soth, Director General of Techniques for Culture, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, mobile: 016 856259
  • Mr. Teruo Jinnai, Culture Programme Specialist, Office of UNESCO in Phnom Penh, Tel.: 023 217244, email: t.jinnai(at)unesco.org

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