Cambodia’s Magic War With Thailand
August 19, 2008, 2:51 am
Filed under: Culture, International Issues

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Cambodia’s Magic War With Thailand

by Moeun Chhean Nariddh

Phnom Penh Post, Tuesday, 12 August, 2008

E

arly this month, The Nation newspaper in Bangkok reported that many Thai residents in Si Sa Ket province which borders Cambodia wore yellow to help protect Thailand from black-magic spells cast by Khmer “wizards” who met at Preah Vihear Temple during the solar eclipse early this month.

On August 1, Bun Rany, the wife of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, led Buddhist monks and soldiers to the ancient Hindu temple to call upon their ancestors to protect the temple.

The Nation wrote that Thai media reports said that the mysterious black-magic spells by Khmer wizards would not only protect the temple but also weaken Thailand. Meanwhile, some Thai astrologers were reported to have urged local people to wear yellow to deflect the spells.

Whether the Thai astrologers considered the solemnly organized prayer at the temple Cambodia’s cast of magic spells on Thailand, the use of magic by Cambodians has prevailed for centuries. Continue reading

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A Bassac Theater tale
January 11, 2008, 7:33 am
Filed under: Culture

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A Bassac Theater tale

suramarit_theatre1.jpg

The Preah Suramarit Theatre or the Bassac Theater, designed by renowned architect Vann Molyvann in 1966, it opened in 1968 as the Grand Théâtre Preah Bat Norodom Suramarit (Source: Wekipedia)

It was 25 years ago in 1982 when I and my schoolmates were lucky enough to come to the Bassac Theater at the river front south of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh and see the early traditional arts performances after the Khmer Rouge regime collapsed.

Though we had little knowledge or feeling of a national pride as teenagers, we were proud enough to see the impressive theatre and its marvelous beauty. Surrounded by a spacious garden of blooming frangipani and other flowers, the theater was really a good place to relax and enjoy oneself. Below the staircase leading to the upper floor, we watched golden and silver fish swimming in a pool and dancing to the music inside the auditorium. Continue reading



Museum May Have Negative Consequences
November 16, 2007, 1:00 am
Filed under: Culture

Letter

Museum May Have Negative Consequences

The Cambodia Daily, 14 November 2007

 

I am glad that the government is making an effort to preserve the Khmer heritage by encouraging companies to construct museums in Cambodia (“PM Invites Companies To Build Museums,” Nov 13, page 20)

 However, we feel that building a museum may not be an effective measure to protect our cultural patrimony.

 When a museum is built, they will need artifacts to be displayed for visitors. After years of looting and neglect, Cambodia seems to have run out of ancient artifacts that can be shown in museums. Continue reading



Drums herald fruit festival
October 27, 2007, 8:05 am
Filed under: Culture

Drums herald fruit festival

By Moeun Chhean Nariddh

 

Every year, 29 days from the first waning moon night of Asoch, the non-stop, heart-stirring sound of the drum-like Chaiyums is heard all over Cambodia.

The Asoch is the eleventh month of the lunar calendar and the music implies it is now the period of the Kathin festival, which begins on October 27 in 2007.


One of the distinguishing characteristics of Bon Kathin is its fruit which benefits both religiously and humanly. Continue reading



Magic art of bullet-proofing the troops
October 2, 2007, 2:06 am
Filed under: Culture

Magic art of bullet-proofing the troops

Moeun Chhean Nariddh seeks out the teachers of Khmer magic, those to whom soldiers go to for “supernatural” help to turn the bullets and bombs away.

 

WITH magic protection, four years fighting on the battlefield was just like playing hide-and-seek for Chuop Saruop.

“A shell dropped by my side but it didn’t hurt me,” said the 40-year-old former soldier, a believer that the power of the “supernatural” saved his life, making him bullet-proof, fire-proof and impervious to knives.

He said the shrapnel from the shell was only able to burn and tear his clothes, but not his body. Continue reading



Pottery skills from Stone Age are dying out
September 29, 2007, 9:51 am
Filed under: Culture

Pottery skills from Stone Age are dying out

Moeun Chhean Nariddh delves into ancient traditions in Kompong Chhnang.

 

The people of the province are famous nationwide for being the producers of Khmer pottery. But the traditional lifestyle and art-forms, which have been handed down from generation to generation for thousands of years, are threatened with extinction, according to experts.

Professor Chuch Phoeurn, Dean of the Faculty of Archeology at the University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, said from excavatory findings that Khmer pottery making began in the Polished Stone Age at least as far back as 3,500 BC. Continue reading



Cambodian Towns Rapidly Losing Their Khmer Identities
September 20, 2007, 2:30 am
Filed under: Culture

Opinion

 

Cambodian Towns Rapidly Losing Their Khmer Identities

by Moeun Chhean Nariddh

 

I

t was interesting to read about the Italians arguing whether there should be a Chinatown in Rome (“When in Rome, do as the Romans would do not the Chinese”, Tuesday, March 12, Page 16).

Yes, it’s no strange sight to see a Chinatown in cities across the world. But, what the Romans worry about is exactly what the Khmers do.

Though you may not find a clearly defined Chinatown here, many towns here are, in many ways, already Chinatowns. Just look around the markets in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Sihanoukville, Kompong Cham and in many provinces. Continue reading