Cambodia Arts and Music

According to iamaccepted, Cambodia is a state of Southeast Asia, on the Indochinese peninsula. The country (15,408,270 residents, according to an estimate by UNDESA, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, of 2014) recorded an increase in GDP of more than 7% annually between 2010 and 2014. Economic growth is driven by clothing exports, construction, agriculture and tourism. The latter has grown above all thanks to foreign arrivals, which have exceeded 2 million per year since 2007 to reach over 3 million in 2012. Although the country has seen a gradual increase in the Human Development Index (0.584 in 2013) and has achieved, according to estimates by the World Bank, the halving of poverty in 2009, living conditions in rural areas still appear problematic. With a poverty rate of 18.6%, in 2012 the Cambodia had almost 3 million poor and more than 8 million almost poor, 90% of whom lived in the countryside.


The Laang Spean site (Stung Sangker valley) was frequented by groups of hunter-gatherers about 9,000 years ago. The first groups of farmers settled in Cambodia starting from 2300 BC; the main living and burial site of this period is Samrong Sen (on the banks of the Chinit). The findings of bracelets and stone beads of necklaces show affinity with those found in the Mekong basin, as well as the clay finds are reflected in the Thai and Vietnamese ones. For the Iron Age the site of O Pie Can is important, the findings of which show affinity with the Vietnamese ones of the Go Mun culture. An intact burial of a child was found in Phum Snay, with a set of numerous clay vases, and at the foot of the corpse a series of 6 ivory bracelets for each arm. Between 3000 and 1000 BC a type of Neolithic settlement developed, known as a ‘circular village’. The site of Angkor Borei belongs to the Iron Age, perhaps to be identified with the capital of a state between the Mekong and Bassac rivers which flourished between 150 and 550 AD, and which the Chinese called Funan.


After 1863, architecture in Cambodia opened to Western and in particular French influence, especially in the urban planning of the new capital Phnom Penh. The use of wood as a building material was gradually joined by that of masonry, albeit within traditional typologies (Vat Botum Vodei monastery, 1868-74; Silver Pagoda, 1902; royal palace, 1907-19, rest. 1991), while a French colonial style developed. Ambitious European-style constructions of the 1930s are the Hôtel Royal, the central market and the station, while examples of traditional style architecture are the National Museum (G. Groslier, 1917-20) and the Buddhist Institute (1930).

In the second half of the 20th century. architecture in Cambodia was dominated by the personality of V. Molyvann, trained in France, who seeks a link between contemporary languages ​​and ancient Khmer tradition (Phnom Penh: Independence Monument; the Chakdomukh hall and the state palace; complex sports and Olympic stadium; municipal theater; Sihanoukville: brewery); left the Cambodia in 1971 he returned there in 1991, continuing his commitment to a revival of architecture and an enhancement of the monumental heritage. We also recall the activities L. Ban Hap and O. Sadam.

The artistic production between the 19th and the 20th century. it has seen a certain liveliness, albeit in the context of traditional stylistic and iconographic conventions. In addition to some works of European origin, partly destroyed (statue of King Sisowath, 1920), the colonial influence on the arts did not appear to be decisive. After independence, alongside a new focus on modern art, the trend towards a production of a realist type is highlighted. In the 1980s and 1990s some personalities emerged, combining Khmer culture with references to Western art, as well as artists established abroad, such as M. Ky, the painters P. Chan Than, S. Vannara, L. Sophea, or L. Seckon, P. Sopheap, L. Saphan, who use a variety of media, from painting to sculpture, from sewing to collage, to photography.


A typical Cambodian show is the Nang Shek, shadow theater, made with large figures carved in leather, animated by dancers and projected on a screen. The song of a narrator and a tuned percussion orchestra accompany and comment on the story represented, usually taken from the Indian epic Rāmāyāṇa. As for instrumental music, there are different types of ensembles, including: the pin peat, composed of xylophones, gong chimes, oboes, flutes and drums, and the mahori, in which a base of xylophones is associated with stringed instruments of various types.

Cambodia Arts