According to the legend of Phnom Chisor, a Brahmin chief blessed ancient King Sorya
Deva's baby so that it would have the strength of an ant, the power of a ghost and
the sharp mind of a woman. For this blessing - and its full explanation - the king
built the Brahmins a shrine on the mountain.
This is described in a new leaflet published by UNESCO promoting local industry and
tourism at Phnom Chisor, where cultural heritage has become important in the revitalization
of the rural economy.
"I think that Cambodia has in its heritage a major tool to reduce poverty,"
said UNESCO country representative Etienne Clément at a meeting with representatives
from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. He hopes that historic sites all over
Cambodia will attract tourists to impoverished areas.
Chuch Phoeurn, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said
"We will make all the resorts and the temples become a place of attraction that
will help people in the areas get income from tourists."
Phnom Chisor is 55km outside Phnom Penh along Route 2. Historians date the hilltop
temple to the reign of King Suryavarman I between 1002 and 1049 AD in commemoration
of the god Shiva.
UNESCO and UNDP have been working to revitalize silk weaving at Phnom Chisor since
1992 under the "Strengthen Community Temple Learning Centres" project,
which relies on volunteers and has spent $30,000 in total.
Working together in August 2003, UNESCO/UNV and the Cambodian Craft Cooperation organized
a two-month training session for 24 villages.
At the moment UNESCO acts as a distributor for silk woven at Phnom Chisor. It is
hoped that tourism will provide enough business for the weavers and potters to become
Chunlout Dei is a renowned pottery-making village. The numbers of potters decreased
during and after the Khmer Rouge regime. Today most former potters work at the Phnom
Chisor quarry, where observers say illegal stone quarrying is damaging the cultural