Sdech Jang Game (King Game)

Sdech Jang or King Game is a game that boys, girls, or teenagers from every village all over Cambodia, always play during their free time at night time under the moonlight. Players have too many male and female players which unlimited. When playing, they are divided into two groups, one male, and one female. In both groups, they set up a male or a female as a king to sit in the center.

Sdech Jang Game (King Game) © Buddhist Institute 1964
Sdech Jang Game (King Game) © Buddhist Institute 1964

What Are Cambodian Traditional Games?

Cambodia has many traditional games. In the old days, Khmer people liked to play the games in their free time, during big and small parties, or on holidays, such as Khmer new year which has been attached to Cambodian culture for many years. 

If we observe each game carefully, we can see that those games offer plenty of benefits. Some games involve physicality, whereas the others reinforce mentality. The games help build up an individual's strength, reflex, health, stamina, and agility. On the other side, some games help people to strengthen their creativity, consciousness, and other tricks. 

Since Cambodia is the oldest country in Southeast Asia, a lot of songs and games were designed and produced a long time ago. 

Unlike traditional songs, the Cambodian traditional games have not been written down in any notes at all. Generally, people only choose to play the game with their neighbors, siblings, relatives, or families on their own. 

As people did not record how each game was performed, the Cambodian games have not lasted longer for the younger generations these days. On top of that, the influences of foreign games have made a huge negative impact on the Khmer games. Therefore, the Khmer games have gradually faded away. 

Sdech Jang or King Game - What Is It?

Sdech Jang game is one of the Khmer traditional games considered a Khmer new year fun game. Teenagers and adults of both genders can play the game. However, it might not be suitable for the elderly as the game involves more physical activities. 

Back in the old days, this Khmer King game was mostly performed within a village across the country during holidays, especially Khmer new year or Pchum Ben. And the game was played at night only. However, as of today, people love to play the Sdech Jang game with their colleagues. Sometimes they play with random people who participate in traditional shows organized at pagodas or public places. For example, Bonn Phum is one of the folklife festivals shows that is performed by the Kmeng Khmer band.

The game can be joined with unlimited participants of both men and women of all ages, except the elderly. To begin with, all players are divided equally by their genders, which is a group of males and a group of females. As there is only one king allowed in the game, both groups must appoint one person to be the representation of the king. The king will sit in the middle of the group on a chair or a cooking mortar. 

How Do Playing Activities Work?

After appointing the king to take a seat in the middle already, a girl side is first to initiate the king. Then, she has to whisper to the king that she adores that one guy on the other side. If they know each other, she can mention their name. However, she could tell the king about his appearance or outfit if she did not. From there, she has to go back to her group. 

Following that, the man group has to command one guy, who is expected to meet the girl’s call, to visit the king. As a rule of the game, if the guy visiting the king is not what the girl whispers, the game resets and restarts. 

However, if the guy matches the girl’s murmur, the king then must shout ‘Eav Eav’. The word ‘Eav’ is translated in English as ‘Carry on the back’. After shouting, that guy has to run straight to the girl and carry her on his back to the female group. 

Subsequently, it is time for the male group to murmur the king. The guy’s group will do the same process as the girl team has done by telling the king in a low voice about his favorite girl. After that, it is time for the girl side to push one of the girls to visit the king. 

If the girl meeting the king pairs with the boy’s whispering, the king then calls out ‘Eav Eav’. Thus, the girl has to carry the guy to the boy’s group. While transferring him, the guy has to shout ‘Eav…Eav’ until he arrives at his side. 

All in all, the activity will be repeated from the start until everyone agrees to finish and returns home. Back in the old days, people started the game in the evening and ended it at night. However, Cambodian people love to play these games until midnight as they have sufficient lights to brighten the area. Also, more people like to participate after their working hours.

The Role of The King

The king’s main responsibility is to decide based on justice and truth. Nevertheless, it relies on the king’s decision-making. For instance, if the king wants a guy or a girl from his/her side to carry another one, he would simply say ‘Eav Eav’. Then, the person who just whispers to the king will be carried by his/her beloved person to his/her team. 

On the other hand, all players can vote for the new king if they happen to find out that the king has made any unfair decisions. 

Furthermore, Sdech Jang, or King Game teaches people to be fair and honest. On top of that, it also educates them to carefully select a trustworthy and honest person to be their representative. Besides, this Khmer King Game teaches us 4 ways of prejudice in people: prejudice of love and desire, prejudice of hatred, prejudice of fear, and prejudice of delusion and stupidity.


All Types of Khmer Traditional Games You May Know

As Khmer new year is approaching, there are many kinds of traditional games that you may consider playing with your friends, relatives, families, or neighbors. If you are able to recognize and learn all those traditional games, you will improve a lot in physicality and mentality. Thus, now let’s look at all the 22 Khmer traditional games as follows: 

1. Sdech Jang or Eav (ស្ដេចចង់ ឬអៀវ)

2. Choung (ឈូង)

3. Jarb Kon’Klaeng (ចាប់កូនខ្លែង)

4. Load An’Taek (លោតអន្ទាក់)

5. Leak Kan’Saeng (លាក់កន្សែង)

6. Aob Tro’Lach (​​ឱបត្រឡាច)

7. Pror Jul’Moan (ប្រជល់មាន់)

8. Krorb Moan (គ្របមាន់)

9. Hide and Seek, Bet Poun (បិទពួន)

10. Arng’Kunh (អង្គញ់)

11. Kuos Pon’Leak (គោះពញ្លាក់​ ឬទះពញ្លាក់)

12. Kuos Tro’Laok (គោះត្រឡោក)

13. Sey (សី)

14. Teanh Praot (ទាញព្រ័ត្រ)

15. Kon Kol (កូនគោល)

16. Reav Bong’Korng (រាវបង្កង)

17. Jos Pror’Mat (ចោះប្រមាត់)

18. Bay Khom (បាយខំ)

19. Leak Kon’Kas (លាក់កូនកាស)

20. Leak T’chung (លាក់ធ្យូង)

21. Pork Jarb (ប៉ក់ចាប)

22. Jaat Trorng (ចត្រង្គ)