The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts is organising a contest to encourage artists, students, organisations, and associations to showcase their skills and innovative ideas in figurine-making and sculpture. The initiative aims to contribute to the preservation and development of traditional Khmer art.

Chhim Sothy, director of the Department of Fine Arts and Handicrafts, announced that the 2023 national figurine festival will celebrate the themes and motifs surrounding Kun Lbokator, a traditional Cambodian martial art. The festival will take place over three days, from November 16 to 18, at the National Library of Phnom Penh.

He added that from the date of the announcement on May 23 to June 6, more than 10 candidates from Kandal, Siem Reap, Prey Veng, and Kampong Speu provinces had already submitted their entries for the figurine contest.

“Firstly, we want to commemorate Kun Lbokator’s inscription on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Secondly, we want to revitalise the art of figurine-making, which has seen a decline in recent years. Therefore, we encourage all artists to enter the competition,” he explained.

The winners of the contest will receive cash prizes, with the first-place winner awarded 4,000,000 riel, the first runner-up receiving 3,000,000 riel, and the second runner-up receiving 2,500,000 riel.

The ministry plans to showcase the work of the top three winners at various national and international exhibitions, while other participants will receive consolation prizes, letters of commendation, and an unspecified amount of money.

To be eligible for the national figurine festival, all submitted works must meet specific criteria.

All applicants must be of Cambodian and create sculptures that are 60 cm tall, including a 5-cm pedestal. The sculptures should be original, representing ancient or modern forms and may not have been previously exhibited.

They should embody the essence of Cambodian martial arts as a part of the Kingdom’s unique cultural heritage, with an emphasis on creativity and beauty through vivid techniques and dynamic artistry.

Interested candidates are required to submit an application form and necessary documents to the Departments of Culture and Fine Arts in the capital and provinces. The deadline for applications is October 16.