Cambodia seeks ‘intangible cultural heritage’ status for its krama scarf


Cambodia will submit details about its unique scarf – the krama – to Unesco for inclusion in its intangible cultural heritage list, an official said. The submission should be completed by the end of March.

Siyonn Sophearith, director general of the Directorate General of Techniques for Cultural Affairs at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts told The Post that in the last two years, an expert commission had compiled about 80 % of the documents needed for the application.

“On March 17, the culture ministry will hold a workshop to review the draft application. The workshop will be attended by weavers, researchers, and a sampling of Siem Reap residents. The meeting will be the final chance to review the application before it is submitted on March 21,” he said.

According to Sophearith, on February 28, Thailand also announced their intention to submit the krama for inclusion on the list.

He said that although the application is for the same item, Cambodia is still welcome to apply as well, as Unesco places no limits on registration. In fact, Unesco encourages joint registration of all cultural heritages, so they can be jointly protected.

“Intangible cultural heritage cannot be owned by any one country. Unesco encourages multiple countries to register where appropriate – many countries influence one another,” he added.

As an example, Sophearith pointed out that Cambodia, South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam have been encouraged to work together to register the traditional tug-of-war game as a joint application. This meant they would all cooperate to preserve the game and keep the tradition alive.

He also explained that intangible cultural heritage must be preserved within the community.

“All registration requests must be made through the people of a community – the ministry just helps with facilitation and documentation,” he said.

He also explained that tangible cultural heritage – such as temples and other ancient buildings – cannot be jointly claimed. The governments of the relevant countries must manage submissions through the appropriate ministry.

The Phnom Penh Post

Asia News Network

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