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Arts and Handicrafts

Cambodian art is influenced by the Khmer empire, as well as Buddhism and Hinduism. Having been suppressed during the reign of the Khmer Rouge, it is currently undergoing a revival. Khmer sculptures generally depict Hindu deities, mythical creatures, or are themed around the epics Ramayana and Mahabhrata. Buddhist temples also feature intricately carved statues of Buddha.

Dance plays a prominent part in Cambodian arts and culture. The Khmer classical dance is derived from Indian court dance, and is themed around the epic Ramayana. The core of Khmer classical dance is the Apsara, the female dancers modeled after the dancing figure from Hindu and Buddhist mythology and commonly depicted in Cambodian paintings. Incidentally, the term Apsara also refers to the dance itself.

Some forms of craftworks that Cambodians are adept at include silk weaving, silver working, and wood and stone carving. Silk weavings are prominently sold in the Kandal, Prey Veng and Takeo provinces. A popular shopping item is the krama scarf commonly worn by rural Khmers. The krama scarf is checkered, made from cotton and is considered as a national symbol. Cambodians are also skilled at jewelry making, and jewelry is presented in sets for weddings. Most of Cambodian crafts can be purchased from markets or handicraft shops. For the art lover, the Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture and Java Cafe and Gallery (both in Phnom Penh) should offer interesting insights into Cambodian art.

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