WPC – Shadow Puppet Show

SbekThom the Cambodian Shadow puppet show

Sbek Thom the Cambodian Shadow puppet show

One of the interesting show to watch in Cambodia is Sbek Thom. It is a traditional Cambodian performing arts which actually is a shadow puppet show using two meter high, non-articulated puppets made of leather openwork. Since it is deeply integrated into the Khmer beliefs and traditions, Sbek Thom is categorized as a sacred art form.

The puppets are made from a single piece of leather and attached to two bamboo sticks enabling the dancer to control the puppet. And a large white backdrop is held between two tall bamboos in front of a large fire or other strong lights resource.

Accompanied by an orchestra and narrators, the performance is usually taking scenes from the Reamker, the epic Ramayana in Khmer. The puppets are brought to life with specific steps by the dancers circling the white screen and the shadows of the puppet’s silhouettes are projected onto the white screen.

In 2005, Sbek Thom was proclaimed as a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity and since 2009 it was featured on the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.



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