Listed by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, the dance known as Lakhon Khol features colourful masks made of paper, resin and lacquer that take up to five weeks to complete.
The masks are used for four types of roles within the performance: neay rong (male), neang (female), yeak (ogres or asuras), and the sva (monkeys). Apsara crowns or headdress denote the rank of the characters. The smallest crowns like the ‘kbang’ are for low ranking characters while divinities wear a tall crown called ‘mokot ksatrey’. Once completed, a handmade theatrical mask is considered sacred and treated with the utmost respect.
Since being threatened by years of civil war, Lakhon Khol is reclaiming its status and cultural importance in the region. For villages like Svay Andet and Kandal, the performance is compulsory because it is believed that failure to attend may result in disasters such as drought.
At The Fair Trade Village you will find some of the finest examples of all four types of handmade theatrical mask.