20+ Creative Khmer Words For The Circus


Sculptures discovered at Angkor Wat depicting traditional circus acts are evidence that the people of Cambodia were enjoying the spectacle of the ‘Big Top’ (circus) long before the fall of the Angkor Empire in the 14th century. In recent decades, Khmer words for the circus have returned to the Cambodian lexicon as the spectacle continues to gain in popularity.

As we explore the colorful world of the circus in Cambodia, we’ll also delve into the Khmer language and discover the unique words associated with this enchanting art form. So, get ready for an engaging and intriguing act as you make your way through the circus-related vocabulary used in the Khmer language.

The Modern Circus

Cambodia’s circus scene is a blend of traditional and contemporary performances. It’s a captivating art form that has evolved over recent years, combining age-old traditions with modern twists. Two prominent circus companies, Phare, the Cambodian Circus, and the National Circus School of Cambodia, have been instrumental in shaping the circus landscape in Cambodia.

Brightness Of The Arts – Phare Ponleu Selpak (ហ្វារពន្លឺសិល្បៈ)

Phare, the Cambodian Circus, is an iconic circus troupe based in Siem Reap. Established in 1994, it was founded by a group of young Cambodian refugees, having returned to Battambang from a refugee camp on the border with Thailand. Their aim was to revive their cultural heritage through circus arts (under the Khmer Rouge, any type of artistic performance was outlawed).

Today, the Phare Circus showcases a variety of breathtaking performances that draw inspiration from Cambodian performers’ personal experiences and struggles, history, folklore, and contemporary issues. Audience members are encouraged to join the performers on stage after the show. Isn’t that amazing? I can’t wait to experience something like this in my next trip to Cambodia!


National Circus School Of Cambodia

The National Circus School of Cambodia, on the other hand, is dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional Cambodian circus arts. Established on 20 September 1980, this school trains young Cambodians in the ancient art forms of circus, ensuring that these traditions are passed down to future generations. The National Cambodian Circus originally consisted of students who were orphaned under the Khmer Rouge regime and put into refugee camps and is split into two parts consisting of the arts school that trains the acrobats and the circus’s acrobatic troupe.

On 26 September 2012, a permanent 1000-seat fully functional circus tent was opened and those that are unable to see the performances in person could tune in to see the performers show off their skills on TV shows like Cambodia’s Got Talent.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some Khmer vocabulary associated with the Big Top:

Some Khmer Words For The Circus

Acrobatអ្នកកីឡាខាងអាក្រូបាតAnak keila khang a krau bat
Ringmasterគ្រូសៀកKrou siek
Tightropeដើរលើខ្សែលួសDaer leu khsaeluos
Jugglerអ្នកក្បាច់ត្រែAnak kbach tre
Lionតោ/ សិង្ហTao/ Seng
Fire-eaterអ្នកស៊ីភ្លើងAnak sai phleung
Magicianមនុស្សចេះឆMnoussa cheh chh
Clown shoesស្បែកជើងត្លុកSbekcheung tlok
Acrobaticsការលោតហក់Kar lot hk
Ticket boothកន្លែងលក់សំបុត្រKanleng lk saambot
Circus musicតន្ត្រីសៀកTannarei Siek
Animal trainerគ្រូបង្ហាត់សត្វKroubangheat sat
Popcornពោត​លីងPot ling
Cotton candyស្ករគ្រាប់កប្បាសSkarokreab kabbas
Ringសង្វៀនសៀកSangvien siek
Circus tentតង់សៀកTng siek

The Circus As Cultural Ambassador

When the National Circus School of Cambodia was first established, Russian and Vietnamese teachers were invited to come to Cambodia to offer their expertise. Some of the students even travelled abroad to perfect their skills in countries including China, France, and Vietnam. It is common for performers to travel around the globe to complement their domestic training and this fosters international relationships.

The circus has played a vital role in promoting Cambodian culture on the global stage. International tourists visiting Cambodia are invited to witness the performances put on by Phare Ponleu Selpak and The National Cambodian Circus and Cambodian audiences can tune in to see the artists perform on television, and in doing so, both gain a deeper appreciation for the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Furthermore, circus troupes from Cambodia have been invited to perform at international festivals and events in other countries, allowing them to showcase their unique talent and creativity to a global audience. This not only brings recognition to the Cambodian circus but also fosters cultural exchange and understanding between Cambodia and other nations.


Improve Your Khmer Linguistic Skills With Ling

If our circus adventure has inspired you to learn more about Khmer, Ling is the learning tool for you. The Ling app has Khmer language lessons created by native Cambodians so you will be learning how to pronounce the vocabulary and converse correctly from the start of your very first lesson.

Ling also has a well-curated Khmer blog replete with blog posts like this one where you can learn all about other aspects of the lives and culture of the Cambodian people. Whether you are a beginner, or a Khmer speaker looking to improve in areas such as reading and writing, Ling is the tool for you. You choose the level you want to enter and Ling will do the rest. Lots of interactive games and quizzes are a great way to keep the learning process fun as you assess how you are getting on. So, why not give the Ling app a try today? Download it on Google Play or App Store.

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