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Statues unearthed in rice field

6 monkey statues

Two monkey statues that could date back to the Angkorian period were found by a Banteay Meanchey farmer on Sunday morning, as he searched for rats in the rice paddies near his home.

Orm Sophai, police chief at Mongkol Borei district’s Phnom Touch commune, said yesterday that the statues are being kept at the farmer’s house, with villagers and outsiders coming to pray and ask for blessings at his temporary shrine.

“The finder of the statues is cooperating with officials. We have not taken the statues to the provincial museum yet because the villagers want to pay their respects and celebrate [the discovery],” he said.

Officials will visit the site of the discovery to verify the farmer’s story and determine whether the area was once home to an ancient temple, he added.

Path Line, 38, who found the statues, told local newspaper Kampuchea Thmey that he had a dream in which he was told to find the statues in the rice field on Saturday night.

The next morning, he went to the field and saw one of the statues sticking out of the ground before digging around the area to unearth the second one, he said.

Chan Saroun, provincial director for the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said that his officials went to see the statues yesterday.

“We will bring them to be kept in the provincial museum, but I do not know when,” he said, adding that although villagers estimated the statues were crafted in the 12th century, the real date could not be ascertained until ministry experts carry out an analysis.

National Museum director Kong Virak said a number of similar discoveries have been made in recent years, although not all are subjected to the costly process of expert analysis that must be carried out abroad.

Art historians and archaeologists can estimate the age and authenticity of discovered relics, though no method is 100 per cent accurate, he added.

Last month, 66 statues of Buddha said to date from between the 16th and 17th centuries were discovered in Stung Treng province by a villager also said to be acting on a premonition he had in a dream.

Additional reporting by Kevin Ponniah

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