A large and intact statue was discovered in a pond in Kampong Thom province on Friday and has since attracted crowds of worshippers, police said yesterday.
Villagers told police that several people had dreamt that the pond – outside the Kdey Doeum pagoda in Stoung district – contained a number of statues. The alleged premonitions led locals to scour the murky water for ancient treasures, district police officer Tang Chhengneoun said.
“It weighs more than 100 kilograms, is 1.5 metres high and is black,” he said, describing the statue. “I don’t know whether it belongs to this pagoda or how long it has been buried there – but we have never found a statue like this before.”
Chhengneoun said villagers believed the statue to be ancient, but authorities were investigating whether it was a newer relic stolen and hidden in the pond.
“I cannot estimate how old it is,” he said. “My own opinion is that … it is not ancient.”
Sem Saven, chief of the Ministry of Cults and Religion’s district department, said officials from the ministry, along with provincial officials and archeologists, have visited the site. Their preliminary investigation had determined that the statue was not an ancient relic, he added.
“The committee estimated that the statue was built in the 1950s or 1960s,” he said. “They will [have] further discussion on whether the statue will remain in the pagoda or be taken to the National Museum.”
It was possible, he added, that the statue had been built during the French colonial period, which ended in 1953.
“It looks like a divinity or a high Khmer royal official . . . but we are not yet sure.”
Regardless, the statue has caused a stir in Kampong Chin village, with many villagers flocking to pray to it, said Chhengneoun.
Before the discovery, he added, villagers had claimed to have seen a whirlpool effect in the pond’s water.
“They went into the whirlpool and found the statue,” he said, adding that the pond was old and authorities had made it deeper twice before so it could contain more water. “But we’ve never found anything.”
Kong Bun Heng, Kampong Chen Tbong commune police chief, said villagers, monks and authorities will hold a ceremony from today until Wednesday, asking for happiness for those in the commune.