Cambodian historians believe that in the year since the decision was made on November 29, 2022 to register Kun Lbokator to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, people are becoming more and more aware of the ancient Cambodian battlefield martial art of the Khmer Empire.
Sambo Manara, a Khmer history professor, said on November 29 that the decision to inscribe Kun Lbokator on the list was a huge success and a source of national pride. Kun Lbokator’s inclusion also demonstrates the efforts that the government and all relevant parties are making to promote the Kingdom’s national cultural heritage.
“One year after being inscribed, we have witnessed strong evolutionary progress by Kun Lbokator. I am so excited to see the leadership and relevant institutions celebrating our cultural heritage together. It shows the new friendship and solidarity that leads all members of Khmer society to value each other,” he added.
Manara explained that through research of the evidence of Kun Lbokator’s history which is carved on the walls of the Kingdom’s temples – most notably Bayon Temple in Siem Reap province – it can be seen that the martial art has been present across the Kingdom since the ancient Angkorian era.
He urged young people to increase their efforts to learn and work together to learn more about it, because this will encourage them to understand more about the cultural heritage left to them by their ancestors.
“As a researcher of Khmer history, I call on all young Cambodians to pay close attention to Kun Lbokator and strengthen their ties, as successors to our national values,” he said.
UNESCO’s 17th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage approved its entry during its November 29, 2022 meeting in Rabat, Morocco.
The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts explained that Kun Lbokator is a traditional Khmer martial art which has been deeply rooted in Cambodian society for centuries and continues to survive today.
According to a ministry statement, carvings of Kun Lbokator on the walls of temples from the Angkorian era are clear proof of the centuries-old practice of the martial art. The training that is passed down from one generation to another serves to strengthen individual’s wisdom and give them the ability to protect themselves from wild animals and enemies, as well as to defend society and the motherland.
“Thanks to the government’s close attention and efforts of the community of trainers and trainees, Kun Lbokator martial arts are preserved, valued and widely known, both within the Kingdom and internationally,” it said.
On the occasion of the one-year anniversary, Prime Minister Hun Manet and several government institutions – as well as representatives of the private sector and various stakeholders – took to social media to celebrate the occasion.
“The registration of the ancient art is not only helping the Cambodian soul to become famous on the international stage, but also help improve the Kingdom’s socio-economic situation. We urge all stakeholders to preserve and maintain this national cultural heritage, as protecting our unique cultural heritage is the duty of all Cambodians,” added the ministry.