Siem Reap Province
FIVE villagers from Banteay Srei district in Siem Reap province stumbled upon a Hindu religious sculpture last week while returning from looking for wood in the forest, local officials said.
Tieng Sem, the chief of Banteay Srei village, said the villagers had been out in the forest “to collect small pieces of luxury wood left by loggers” and on their return they discovered the statue, a representation of the Hindu god Vishnu, the supreme god in the Vaishnaite tradition of Hinduism.
He added that the statue had been found about 16 kilometres away from the village.
After finding the statue – which is 1 metre high and 40 centimetres wide, and which Tieng Sem described as “very heavy” – the villagers contacted local officials.
“I touched it and saw that the statue is still in good condition,” Tieng Sem said, noting that it had been buried in a half-metre-deep hole in the middle of farmland that had been formerly used for rice but is now used to grow bananas.
“I think someone must’ve hidden it about two years ago,” he said, adding that rains during the past wet season had probably eroded the soil, partly uncovering the statue.
Officials have not yet been able to date the statue, Tieng Sem said.
Chrun Sophal, director of the broadcasting department at the Apsara Authority, said statues had been found in two locations in Siem Reap province last week.
In both cases, he added, the exact weight, style and era of the statue has not yet been determined.
“We will go to see on Monday and issue an acknowledgment letter to the people who discovered the statue and told us,” he said. “If we do not do that to encourage people, they will not tell us if they find statues later.”