Nine Masters Granted “Living Heritage” Status

Nine masters from traditional arts and performance have been bestowed “living heritage” status by King Norodom Sihamoni. Photo: Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts

PHNOM PENH – Nine masters from traditional arts and performance have been bestowed “living heritage” status by King Norodom Sihamoni, raising the number of such masters to 26.

The title was conferred in a royal decree signed on Feb. 4, according to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.  

Those awarded include Kin Yin, who is the master of Kien Svay Krao Lakhon — a form of classical theatre; Chea Yuthea, master of metal engraving; Choeun Sophan, master of Khmer shadow theatre; and Nhoch Hoeun, master of indigenous traditional music.

The title was also given to Narn Samai, master of indigenous traditional dance; Bin Vin, master of the traditional Chol Mlob ceremony; Mork Cheang, master of Khmer silk ceiling weaving; El Pech, master of Chapei Dang Veng — a two-string, long-neck guitar; and to Eum Sruon, master of Lkhon Khol Wat Svay Andet.

Master Chea Yuthea,67, expressed his gratitude and delight for having received the title, which acknowledged his skills as a metal engraving artist — a skill from Khmer ancestors.

Master Yuthea said he has been a metal engraving artist since 1966-67. He did not learn how to engrave at school, but from other masters in person during their work together.

Even though starting as an engraving artist was only a job at first, Master Yuthea began to love the art and started working on it more. The job was hindered by the Khmer Rouge regime, as he was exiled out of Phnom Penh.

In 1987-88, Master Yuthea started working on the engravings again, one by one.

He said he did not receive many orders, as there were not many tourists at the time. 

At 67, Master Yuthea is hoping to pass his skills to the next generation, including his son and grandson who are learning the skill from him.

He and his son have received certificates recognizing the skill from the Culture Ministry and both will continue in the job.

Living heritage refers to an individual or group of people with the highest level of knowledge, skills, talent and techniques necessary for the creation of a selection of aspects of the cultural life of the people and the existence of a national intangible cultural heritage, according to the Royal Decree on Living Heritage System of Cambodia dated 2010.

Receiving such status also comes with benefits including a monthly salary and funds to do research and training. 


Meng Seavmey contributed to the story.

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