Row over traditional masked dance averted with double Unesco listings

Thai academic Anucha Thirakanont holding a khon mask he keeps in his office at Thammasat University. Cambodia's masked dance performance known as Lkhon Khol Wat Svay Andet.
Cambodia's masked dance performance known as Lkhon Khol Wat Svay Andet.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND FINE ARTS OF CAMBODIA

Earlier listing of Cambodian form of shared heritage initially sparked anger among Thais

In a classical performance known as khon in Thailand and lkhon khol in Cambodia, dancers in glittering papier-mache masks wage a battle of good and evil, enacting scenes derived from the Indian epic Ramayana.

But the shared tradition almost turned into a political hot potato recently when the United Nations inscribed the lkhon khol performed in a community east of Phnom Penh in its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2018, with the headline 'Row over traditional masked dance averted with double Unesco listings'. Print Edition | Subscribe