Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cambodia requests UNESO for including more temples and traditional dances for the World Heritage

By BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Royal Government of Cambodia has requested the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, France, to include more temples and traditional dances to be the World properties in order to preserve them for the next generations, said the Cambodia government official.

Him Chhem, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts (MoCFA), that that Cambodian government has requested the UNESCO Paris for inserting Banteay Chhmar and Sambor Prey Kub temples, along with other Khmer traditional dances including Lakhaon Polsrey, Lakhaon Kol, Cheang Torng (Gold smith) )Chapei Dangveng which are the prioritized Cambodian rich cultures to be the world property for the people in the world.

The Minister told The Cambodia Weekly during a telephone interview on October 3 that: “We have requested UNESCO for including Cambodian temples, theatres and dance for the world heritages because we wanted these things to be taken care and preserved by the people in the world and UNESCO which is an UN Agency for conservations.”

He said, “On the other hand, we wanted the people around the world to know that the temples and rich cultures were existed in Kingdom of Cambodia. An if they wish to see them, they fly to Cambodia.”

Som Sokun, Secretary of State in Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said that the culture of Cambodia has had a rich and varied history dating back many centuries in the Southeast Asia.

Sokun said that Cambodia has hundreds of the landmarks both tangible and intangible cultural heritage such as Prasat (temples), Wat ( pagoda), music, traditional dances, folk dance, theaters and rivers which are the richest culture and nature in Southeast Asia.

He told the Cambodia Weekly that so far, Cambodian government had successfully included only five of the Nation’s prioritized traditional dances and temples for the world heritage.

He said that the five prioritized things which have been officially recognized by UNESCO Paris included Royal Ballet, Sbeik Thom, Tonle Sap Lake, Angkor Wat and its compound areas, and Preah Vihear temple.

He said that in order to include more temples, traditional dances and theatres for the world heritages, recently, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has submitted Prasat Banteay Chhmar, Prasat Prey Kub, Lakhaon Khol, Chapei Dang Veng and Cheang Torng to UNESCO Paris Office through the Cambodian National Committee in partnership with UNESCO for putting them as the world heritage.

He said that nowadays, the ministry was also planning to submit another Lakhaon Polsry which is a Cambodian theatre and which was disappeared for decades and which just re-survived in 2003, for the World Heritage.

“We strongly believe that through putting these Khmer classical dances and temples as the world and human being properties, we can conserve them for our next generating people in future.”

He pointed that in order to preserve Cambodian culture for the next generations, the ministry has been working hard to train the new students, teachers and researchers about their precious cultures and traditions.

He said that the ministry has also collaborated with involved ministries and institutions and other partners such as UNESCO in Cambodia to documenting all types of Khmer cultures and traditions including Lakhaon theatre, traditional dances ,music and other songs which have survived for archives.

Meas Sarun, Technical Secretary General of MoCFA, said that according to report, there are a total of 4,500 Khmer traditional dances and 256 traditional music in Cambodia.

Sarun said that due to the long-civil war in Cambodia, 102 traditional dances and 31 traditional theatres were disappeared.

However, he said that with hard working of the ministry, a total of 72 traditional dances and 27 traditional theatres were survived and are now re-playing in Cambodia.

He added that nowadays, MoCFA in collaboration other involved ministries and institutions, were working very hard research all those which had been disappeared during the war in order to document them for the future next generations.

Teruo Jinnai, UNESCO Representative in Cambodia, said that Cambodia was one of those countries in the world, extremely rich in both tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

Jinnai spoke at the Opening Workshop on the Basic of Royal Ballet at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts on November 30 that the Royal Ballet was proclaimed as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on 7 November 2003 and Sbeik Thom on 25 May 2005.

He said, “From these days, they became not only the Cambodian Intangible Cultural Heritage, but the Masterpieces of the World. They were the most exciting days for me in Cambodia.”

He said, “It is a pleasure to see that recently many Cambodian are coming to cultural events, and enjoying music, films and performing arts. We are ready to support the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts to promote the public awareness of the Cambodian intangible heritage. Perhaps we can make these performances as annual event, both in provinces and in urban area.”

“We are committed to continue to work with artists, masters and the Ministry officials for safeguarding, preserving and promoting cultural heritage in the Kingdom of Cambodia,” he added.

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