Masked dance tradition rises from near extinction in Cambodia
Updated : January 04, 2019 01:15 PM IST
Cambodia's centuries-old tradition of masked dance was nearly wiped out by the Khmer Rouge's "Killing Fields" regime, but a handful of artists managed to keep it alive and are now working to pass it along to a new generation.
Lakhon Khol was recently listed by UNESCO, the United Nations' cultural agency, as an intangible cultural heritage, along with neighbouring Thailand's version of the dance, known as Khon.
There are different variations in Southeast Asia, all featuring dancers wearing elaborate painted masks depicting the Ramayana, a Sanskrit epic poem in which a prince rescues his wife from a demon with help from an army of monkeys.
But in Cambodia, the art form is still struggling to recover from the Khmer Rouge, under whose genocidal 1975-79 rule at least 1.7 million people, including artists, dancers and writers, died, mostly from starvation, overwork, disease, execution or torture.