UNESCO celebrates second anniversary of Cambodian masked theatre’s inclusion to ICH list
Lkhon Khol Wat Svay Andet is practiced in one community surrounding a Buddhist monastery, Wat Svay Andet – located about 10km east of Phnom Penh on the Mekong River – and is performed by men wearing masks to the accompaniment of a traditional orchestra and melodious recitation.
UNESCO Phnom Penh Office joined Cambodian people and the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, especially the Svay Angdet Community, in celebrating the second anniversary of the inscription of the Lkhon Khol of Wat Svay Andet (masked theatre) being listed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) List on November 28, 2018.
Lkhon Khol Wat Svay Andet is practiced in one community surrounding a Buddhist monastery, Wat Svay Andet – located about 10km east of Phnom Penh on the Mekong River – and is performed by men wearing masks to the accompaniment of a traditional orchestra and melodious recitation. The specific aim is to propitiate the Neak Ta (guardian spirits of a place and its people), thereby protecting and bringing prosperity to the community, its lands, and harvest. One of the oldest forms of Cambodian performing arts which are considered to have been practiced as early as the Angkor period, a form whose origin is placed in the 9th century in accordance with the bas-reliefs that abound in the galleries of Angkor Wat.
Performed by village troupes during 3 nights, one week after the Khmer New Year (normally on 23, 24, and 25 April) or during ceremonies to worship spirits, Lkhon Khol of Wat Svay Andet is performed to ask for rain or to save villagers from epidemics and illnesses.
According to Pauch Phay, former Principal of Svay Angdet Primary School and one of the Svay Angdet Committee members, during the postponed Khmer New Year in August 2020, the Lkhon Khol Svay Angdet Troupe organized a simple Sam Peah Krou, a ritual before the performance, for praying the Spirits Protector of the Lkhon Khol Svay Angdet Troupe to prevent from COVID 19 for their community and all people in Cambodia. And the troupe organized a special performance with a restricted audience on Sunday 22 November 200, to celebrate its second anniversary of inscription, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, through national TVs and social media.