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UNESCO commenced technical support to safeguard Krama Khmer

Phnom Penh, Cambodia – WEBWIRE

With technical assistance from UNESCO, a two-day seminar on Krama Khmer, traditional textile, was organized by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts at the White Palace Resort in Banteay Meanchey province on 21 and 22 February 2023.

Presided over by H.E. Mr. Siyonn Sophearith, Director-General of Techniques for Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, H.E. Deputy Governor of Banteay Meanchey Province, and Mr. Masanori Nagaoka, UNESCO Programme Specialist for Culture, the seminar was attended by 100 participants including Krama Khmer artisans from Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Takeo, Kampong Cham, members of academia, the private sector, as well as representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture, Forest, and Fisheries, the Ministry of Commerce, and Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation.

As Cambodia is currently envisioning nominating Khmer Krama on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the UNESCO Phnom Penh office initiated technical support to strengthen the capacities of the Ministry and seminar attendees, to safeguard and promote Krama Khmer.    

The first day of the seminar focused on Intangible Cultural Heritage and the UNESCO 2003 Convention and provided an overview of the traditional techniques of weaving and natural dyeing in Cambodia. Presentations were made by Krama Khmer artisans including Ms. Dam Srey Mom, from Phnom Srok, Ms. Thuch Sophoan of Angkor Barn Indigo Community, Mr. Pheng Sophal, President of Kei Khmer Association, and Ms. Tech Sim Heang, founder of the Kei-Meas Textiles company.

Representatives from Cambodian Ministries also delivered presentations on existing policies and mechanisms for the safeguarding and promotion of traditional textiles in Cambodia. The following day, Mr. Masanori Nagaoka introduced the nature and objective of the ICH Convention, and criteria for inscription on the Representative List.

The seminar contributed to strengthening understanding and capacities of stakeholders in safeguarding and promoting living heritage. It was also a good opportunity for Krama Khmer producers and stakeholders to meet and discuss their cultural practices and production techniques.

Ms. Morn Saroeuth, artisan and founder of Khmer Golden Silk explained: “this workshop was crucial for us practitioners, as it allowed us to exchange on the different production methods, and use of Krama in  everyday life. In my opinion, Krama is a piece of Khmer identity and plays an important part in our lives from the moment we are born until we die.”   Ms. Tech Sim Heang added: “Krama is essential because it shows Cambodians’ creativity and talent, it can take so many different forms, patterns, colors, and fabrics.”

UNESCO provides technical assistance to the Royal Government of Cambodia in the safeguarding of living heritage including through the implementation of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which was ratified by Cambodia in 2006. Over the years, efforts made by Cambodia, in particular, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts have resulted in the inscription of six elements on the UNESCO Lists, such as a Kun Lbokator in November 2022, the Royal Ballet of Cambodia (2008), Sbek Thom, Khmer shadow theatre (2008), Tugging rituals and games (2015), Chapei Dang Veng (2016), and Lkhon Khol Wat Svay Andet (2018). More information about the 2003 Convention.

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