Category: Travel

Cambodian Art and Culture

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Throughout Cambodia’s history, religious principles guided and inspired its arts. A unique Khmer style emerged from the combination of indigenous animistic beliefs and the originally Indian religions of Hinduism and Buddhism.

Between the 9th and 15th centuries, a prosperous and powerful empire flourished in northwestern Cambodia. The Khmer kingdom of Angkor, named for its capital city, dominated much of what is now Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand.

Cambodian Art and Culture:
Throughout Cambodia’s history, religious principles guided and inspired its arts. A unique Khmer style emerged from the combination of indigenous animistic beliefs and the originally Indian religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. These two religions, along with the Sanskrit language and other elements of Indian civilization, arrived in mainland Southeast Asia during the first few centuries ad. Seafaring merchants following the coast from India to China brought them to the port cities along the Gulf of Thailand, which were then controlled by the state of Funan in Cambodia. At varying times, Cambodian culture also absorbed Javanese, Chinese, and Thai influences.
– Music, Dance, and Theater
– Literature
– Art and Architecture
– Museums

Between the 9th and 15th centuries, a prosperous and powerful empire flourished in northwestern Cambodia. The Khmer kingdom of Angkor, named for its capital city, dominated much of what is now Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. The kingdom drew its religious and political inspiration from India. The literary language of the court was Sanskrit; the spoken language was Khmer. Massive temples from this period, including Angkor Wat and the Bayon at Angkor Thum, testify to the power of Angkor and the grandeur of its architecture and decorative art. The unparalleled achievements in art, architecture, music, and dance during this period served as models for later cultural development in Cambodia.

Music, Dance, and Theater:
Khmer classical dance derived from Indian court dance, which traces its origins to the apsarases of Hindu mythology, heavenly female nymphs who were born to dance for the gods. The traditions of Thailand and Java (in Indonesia) also influenced the music and dance of Cambodia. In classical Cambodian dance, women, dressed in brightly colored costumes with elaborate headdresses, perform slow, graceful movements accompanied by a percussive ensemble known as the pinpeat. Pinpeat orchestras include drums, gongs, and bamboo xylophones. In Cambodia’s villages, plays performed by actors wearing masks are popular. Shadow plays, performed using black leather puppets that enact scenes from the Reamker, are also enjoyed. Folk dancing is popular in rural Cambodia and is performed spontaneously to a drumbeat.

Geography of Cambodia

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The kingdom of Cambodia is located in the south of Indochina peninsula and in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it a natural gateway to Laos, Thailand, Indochina, Myanmar and Vietnam. Its shape and geography divide into four natural regions : the mountains and forests in the North; the vast rice fields of the Central Plains; the semi-arid farm lands of the Northeast plateau; and the tropical islands and long coastline of the peninsula South.

The kingdom of Cambodia is located in the south of Indochina peninsula and in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it a natural gateway to Laos, Thailand, Indochina, Myanmar and Vietnam. Its shape and geography divide into four natural regions : the mountains and forests in the North; the vast rice fields of the Central Plains; the semi-arid farm lands of the Northeast plateau; and the tropical islands and long coastline of the peninsula South.

Cambodia’s two dominant topographical features are the Mekong River system is almost 5km wide in places, and the Tonlé Sap lake. The Mekong River, which rises in Tibet, flows about 486km through Cambodia before continuing, via southern Vietnam, to the South China Sea. At Phnom Penh, it splits into the Upper River (Tonle Mekong Leu) and the Lower River (The Bassac River or Tonle Mekong Krom). Tonlé Sap Lake is linked to the Mekong at Phnom Penh by a 100km-long channel knon as the Tonlé Sap river. From mi-May to early October (the Rainy Season) the level of the Mekong rised, backing up the Tonlé Sap river and causing it to flow north-west into the Tonlé Sap lake. During the dry season, the Tonlé Sap river reversed its flow, draining the waters of the lake back into the Mekong. This extraordinary process makes the Tonlé Sap lake one of the world’s richest sources of freshwater fish. It is estimated that the lake provides alivelihood for about 40% of the Cambodian population and its fish provide almost 60% of the country try’s fish protein intake.

The country consists of 24 provinces that are further divided into districts, sub districts and villages. Phnom Penh is the capital city and centre of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities. It is also the seat of Cambodia’s revered Royal Family, with His Majesty the King recognized as Head of State, Upholder of the Buddhist religion and Upholder of all religions.
Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy with His Majesty the King recognised as Head of State, Upholder of the Buddhist religion and Upholder of all religions. Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy with His Majesty King Norodom Shihanouk, the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty, the present king. The King has reigned for more than half a century, making him the longest reigning khmer monarch. Cambodia clinch a rich diversity of cultures and traditions. With its proud history, tropical climate and renowned hospitality, the Kingdom is a never-ending source of fascination and pleasure for international visitors.