A mustard-tinted crab found in Kampong Cham’s Kampong Siem district on Friday has been elevated to celebrity status after locals deemed the blurry, face-like markings on its shell to be a sign of magical provenance.
Pich Srey, 45, one of the crab’s owners, said yesterday that she was initially sceptical of her 11-year-old son’s claims that he had found a magic crab, but after seeing the anomalous arthropod for herself, she – and some 20 to 30 villagers every day – was convinced of its magical properties.
“My son and daughter called me to see the face of the woman on the crab’s shell with eyes, a nose and a mouth, but I yelled at them and said they are crazy,” she said.
Thinking nothing of it, Srey left home to sell fish at the market as usual. When she returned, however, there were so many people at her house that she thought something was wrong, “but actually they were visiting the crab”.
“I saw the crab with my own eyes on Sunday, and I saw the woman’s face [on its shell] wearing a crown, and when we asked [the face] to smile, it smiled,” she said. “It does what we order it to do.”
Villagers have since taken to collecting the water from the crab’s jar to take home for sick relatives to drink in hopes that it will cure them, Srey said.
“They light incense sticks and pay some money and pray to the magic crab for health and wealth,” she said.
“My family members also drink the water,” she added. “We put out rice and fish for the crab to eat two times per day – breakfast and dinner. It looks healthy.”
Some, however, like Kien Chrey commune police chief Chan Rithy, are unconvinced.
“The villagers believe it is a magic crab because they have never seen that kind of crab, but I do not believe in it,” Rithy said. “It is just a natural phenomenon.”