The history of visual arts in Cambodia stretches back centuries to ancient crafts; Khmer art reached its peak during the Angkor period. Traditional Cambodian arts and crafts include textiles, non-textile weaving, silversmithing, stone carving, lacquerware, ceramics, wat murals, and kite-making. Beginning in the mid-20th century, a tradition of modern art began in Cambodia, though in the later 20th century both traditional and modern arts declined for several reasons, including the killing of artists by the Khmer Rouge. The country has experienced a recent artistic revival due to increased support from governments, NGOs, and foreign tourists.
Especially in the 60s and 70s, the ‘big two’ duet of Sun Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea had been a large hit in the country. However after their deaths, new music stars have tried to bring back the music. Cambodian music has undergone heavy Westernization.
The Cambodian pinpeat ensemble is traditionally heard on feast days in the pagodas. It is also a court ensemble used to accompany classical dance for ritual occasions or theatrical events. The pinpeat is primarily made up of percussion instruments: the roneat ek (lead xylophone), roneat thung (low bamboo xylophone), kong vong touch and kong vong thom (small and large sets of tuned gongs), sampho (two-sided drum), skor thom (two large drums), and sralai (quadruple-reed instrument).
Khmer classical dance is a form of Cambodian dance originally performed only for royalty. The dances have many elements in common with Thai classical dance. During the mid-20th century, it was introduced to the public where it now remains a celebrated icon of Khmer culture, often being performed during public events, holidays, and for tourists visiting Cambodia.this classical Dance is famous for its using of hands and feet to express emotion which known as there are 4,000 different gestures in this type of dance. Provided as repeating a golden age in 1960s, Khmer Classical Dance which know as The Royal Ballet of Cambodia after select as UNESCO’s Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, has lead one of its dance to be a outstanding dance of all for culture and society. Reamker, a khmer version of Indian, Ramayanahad influced strongly to Khmer classical dance. It involved in khmer gesture, movement and story line.The dance that divided from Reamker Dance known as robam sovann macha and robam moni mekala. In Facts, all of Dance reminded the audience of celestial dance which is an angel or Apsara in sansrit mythology in goal of bring the good luck and success to the viewer. The Classical dance is create by the heart of high art as the performer is decorated with themselves with a branches of jewellry.
Apsara Dance, a khmer dance that has survived since the Angkor Era, has been singled out to attract foreign tourists and to make the richness of khmer culture known to the world. Apsara Dance was promoted by Princess Norodom Bopha Devi before the Khmer Rouge times and recently has received an award as one of the main symbols of Cambodia.
Khmer folk dances, which are performed for audiences, are fast-paced. The movements and gestures are not as stylized as Khmer classical dance. Folk dancers wear clothes of the people they are portraying such as Chams, hill tribes, farmers, and peasants. The folk dance music is played by a mahori orchestra.
Cambodian vernacular dances (or social dances) are those danced at social gatherings. Such dances include ram vong, ram kbach, ram saravan, and lam leav. Some of these dances have much influence from the traditional dances of Laos. But rom kbach, for example, take heavily from the classical dance of the royal court. Other social dances from around the world have had an impact on Cambodian social culture include the Cha-cha, Bolero, and the Madison.