8 September 2010

Princess Bopha Devi

A self-designed commemorative cover celebrating
HRH Princess Norodom Bopha Devi's 60th birthday in 2003.

When talking about the world famous Cambodian classical dance, Princess Norodom Bopha Devi is undoubtfully an icon of the art.

Bopha devi means "flower goddess/queen" in Sanskirt. Princess Bopha Devi, the daughter of King Father Norodom Sihanouk, is not only beautiful like flowers, she is the dancing flower. At the age of 5 the talented Princess was chosen by grandmother Queen Sisowath Kossamak to become a dancer. At the age of 15, she was the premiere dancer of the Cambodian Royal Ballet and three years later she was granted the title of prima ballerina.

In the old days the Cambodian Royal Ballet was only performed at religious ceremonies or to entertain royalties. Together with Queen Sisowath Kossamak, the Princess has vigorously brought the dance beyond the palace walls to commoners and world audience. Her graceful and sophiscated celestial Apsara Dance performance during a tour in France in 1964 simply took Paris by storm.

In the genocidal years from 1975 to 1979 when the classical dance was banned and artists killed, the Princess went exile in France to continue teaching new dancers. After the Khmer Rouge regime fell, she went to the Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand to train dancers for a revival of art and culture, and to give spiritual support for survivors after the 4 year tragedy.

The devoted Princess served as the Minister of Culture and Fine Arts when it was found in 1997, since then she worked close with UNESCO, NGOs, as well as overseas and local art institutions and individuals to revive Khmer fine arts. Now at the age of 67, she still plays a major role in the cultural sector of Cambodia.

The Princess and the King after a dance performance at the Chaktomuk Theatre.
The King is a famous (western) ballet dancer and the Princess Khmer classical dancer.
(Photo by Andy Brouwer 2009)

Bangkok-based British photographer Martin Reeves has produced for the History Channel a short documentary on Cambodian Royal Ballet. It includes a glance of the 1965 movie "Apsara" which features the young Princess dancing. Please click here to view.

External link: Le Ballet Royal du Cambodge (in French only)


  1. a nicely designed cover.i was not aware of the fact that princess was a dancer.thanks.do you have any maxim card on ramayana/reamaker?

  2. Thank you for dropping by. In 2006 Cambodia issued a Reamker set. No official Maxicard issued, only private made.