Prime Minister Hun Sen marked the fourth anniversary of the chapei dong veng, the traditional Khmer two-stringed guitar, being included on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list by praising the musical instrument’s role in Cambodian culture.
In a Facebook post on November 30, he said: “The chapei dong veng can be played as an accompaniment with songs or used to create and invent new songs on its own.”
He also said the instrument had been crucial in educating Cambodians on their culture and virtues by way of ancient stories and fables.
The chapei dong veng has been played in Cambodia for centuries and images of the iconic long-necked instrument were engraved on the walls of the Angkor Wat temple.
Hun Sen also thanked older Cambodians who played the chapei dong veng and had helped to preserve its music and artistry. He also thanked the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts for requesting that UNESCO add the instrument to its Cultural Heritage List.
The culture ministry launched the theatre of the chapei dong veng on its formal Facebook page on November 28 to raise awareness about the instrument.
Ministry spokesman Long Ponnasirivath said the chapei dong veng theatre this year featured a chapter of the Lakhon Khol Reamker, the localised version of the Indian epic Ramayana, orchestra presentations and a royal symphony. Older chapei dong veng masters Kampoul Pich and Moeu Moeurn played the instrument and discussed methods of teaching it to the young generation.
“We performed scenes concerning the chapei dong veng on the culture ministry’s official Facebook page. But we didn’t organise an in-person programme for people to watch because we are afraid of Covid-19 transmission,” he said.
Ponnasirivath urged all Cambodians to remember and preserve their culture, saying that in this way they helped preserve the soul of the nation.
“We call for the participation of the people. We are Khmer, who are the owners of this culture. We join hands to preserve and promote it. We prepare, perform and spread our culture in all forms so the people can join us in promoting national culture.
“Putting [the chapei dong veng] on the list of intangible cultural heritage is a point of national pride – our masterpiece has been recognised,” he said.