The center of Cambodian literature consists of myths and legends passed down orally from generation to generation. Most of these are based on stories about Buddha's previous lives (Jataka tales), and epics of India (Mahabharata and Ramayana).
The greatest piece of literature in Khmer is called The Reamker. It is the Cambodian adaptation of the Indian epic of the Ramayana. It dates from the fifteenth or sixteenth century. The story of Hanuman and Sovann Macha (which is described separately) is derived from this story and made into a dance. Many Cambodian dances, and shadow plays are also taken from the Cambodian version of The Ramayana. The Ramayana is found in many cultures throughout Southeast Asia. Cambodians also like to tell their children "chbap"s or moral proverbs which school children memorize, as well as stories from the Reamker of folk tales. The chbap teaches the values of Cambodian society, such as being obedient to your elders and protecting those who are less fortunate than yourself.