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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Days of Royal paintings numbered

Days of Royal paintings numbered

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Workers hang a new portrait of King Norodom Sihamoni.

If most Cambodians don't recognize King Norodom Sihamoni, they will soon.

For those who missed the fanfare of Wednesday's procession through Phnom Penh, there's

another way to glimpse the new face of Cambodian monarchy - huge billboards around

town.

But Sihamoni's pre-coronation depictions differ from those of his father in one major

way: They're computer-scanned and printed, not painted.

While portraits of Sihanouk and Queen Monineath still hang throughout the city, Sihamoni's

digitized face is gaining ground. His five meter tall visage towers over Hun Sen

Park, Russian Boulevard and the runway at Pochentong Airport.

Sorn Sam Aun, part of a crew that put up Sihamoni's picture at the park Tuesday,

had no opinion on the increasing use of digital prints. Painted or scanned, he said

the depictions were useful "because most people have never seen and don't know

about the new king."

Palace officials said prints are more time efficient and claimed the quality was

comparable to painted works. For these reasons, they said, the palace has yet to

order any old-style portraits.

A picture the size of those placed around Phnom Penh Tuesday can be scanned in just

a few minutes, said Bou Vandy, who works at BSB printing house, where portraits of

Sihamoni were processed.

But painters outside the royal palace Saturday said that gains in efficiency come

at a price.

"I did paintings of Sihanouk before and they were brighter," said Chuop

Komsan, 30, who was commissioned to touch up the palace gate before the new king's

arrival. "I could insert more of my feelings and personality into it - it looked

more alive."

Still, small, homogenous placards bearing Sihamoni's face greeted the king at the

airport and on his ride into the city. They may not be works of art, but they get

the job done.

"Pictures are important because they help people to know their king," Vandy

said. "The younger generations especially should recognize their king and be

proud."

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