Cambodian FB users rage over dance ownership

national August 31, 2018 18:20

By The Nation

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United Nations’ cultural agency Unesco’s Facebook page has hosted a heated debate between Cambodians and Thais over Bangkok's proposal for the inclusion of “khon" masked dance on the agency’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.



Social network users across the border have claimed the dance was Cambodian, not Thai, in Facebook comments since mid-August. 

The masked dance - whose story is based on the Hindu Ramayana epic - is common throughout much of Asean.

Thailand is preparing to host a khon masked dance festival in December to promote the tradition, known for its elegant costumes and versed dialogues, being proposed by Thailand for inclusion on the Unesco list. 

According to Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat, the khon festival would promote pride by honouring individuals and organisations contributing to the tradition, host seminars and show a Ramayana animation and a digitalised archive production. It would cover four regions and Bangkok's Thailand Cultural Centre, the minister said.

One comment on the Unesco Facebook said: “This is my Khmer culture it belong to Cambodia long time ago. It not Thailand. We have proofs on the walls of Angkor Wat temples.” 

Another user called "Sam Thavrith” said: "Masked dance performance is Cambodia. Before you make decisions, you should study more clearly about long time history of this performance.”

Another account, "Vattanak Cambodia”, posted: "If I worked in Cultural Ministry, I would advertise our culture to foreigner and prepare document to introduce Lakhorn Khol is owned by Khmer to Unesco. I can’t do anything else just trend the hashtag#ItisCambodianculture. It’s also a part that government worker and non governmental work must work on!!" 

Thai social media users said Thailand had recorded khon performances for 600 years, compared with Cambodia's 300 years.

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