Culture Ministry explains stand on Khaen music

The Culture Ministry has said the traditional Khaen music has its own forms in Cambodia and neighboring Laos and therefore it does not belong to only one country.

The Ministry was reacting to an online criticism over Khaen music being listed as belonging to the people of Laos on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2017.

Khaen music is also performed in Cambodia, especially in Stung Treng province.

Ministry spokesman Long Bunna Sireyvath explained yesterday that the music was not widespread in the country.

“Khaen has its own forms in the Kingdom and Laos which is why we cannot say it belongs only to Cambodia or Laos. This does not mean that we have lost Khaen or Khaen belongs only to Laos, ”Sireyvath said.

The music is performed during Khmer New Year events and during national festivals but not widely recognized by the young generation.

Sireyvath said the ministry cannot recommend the music for UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity List and it is up to the Khaen association to support the art and popularize it.

Director General of the General Department of Cultural Technique Siyon Sophearith, said the ministry can give material support to any traditional art association, but they have to earn the public attention themselves to meet UNESCO’s criteria to be listed.

Khaen dancer Hou Cheychanrith said that it was strange why the Kingdom cannot recommend UNESCO to put Khaen music on the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as it belongs to Khmer and it has not died yet in the Kingdom.

“I regret as our neighboring country is taking care of Khaen but it looks like it is ignored in Cambodia. That is why we cannot put it on the UNESCO list, ”he said.

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