Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Artist gets powerful patron

Artist gets powerful patron

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks to sastra sleuk rith artisan Phoeun Phavy on Tuesday in Siem Reap, where he offered to buy her Khmer palm leaf manuscripts to distribute to all pagodas and state-run schools. Photo supplied
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks to sastra sleuk rith artisan Phoeun Phavy on Tuesday in Siem Reap, where he offered to buy her Khmer palm leaf manuscripts to distribute to all pagodas and state-run schools. Photo supplied

Artist gets powerful patron

A dying art form has gotten a new lease on life this week after Prime Minister Hun Sen pledged to buy as many sastra sleuk rith manuscripts as Siem Reap craftswoman Phoeun Phavy can produce.

In a post to his Facebook page on Tuesday, the premier announced he has offered to buy the traditional form of Khmer manuscript, in which Buddhist scripture is painstakingly inked onto palm leaves, from Phavy at double her current rate.

Hun Sen met with Phavy, 30, in Siem Reap to urge her and her family to continue the traditional craft, of which Phavy is one of the last practitioners. During the meeting, the premier said he planned to distribute the completed works to all pagodas and state-run schools.

Previously priced at 12,000 riel ($3) per leaf – each covered with ornate Buddhist calligraphy – Hun Sen said he hoped the new price tag of 25,000 riel ($6.25) would encourage Phavy to keep creating the manuscripts.

Reached yesterday, Phavy, who was taught how to produce sastra sleuk rith by her father, said it was a welcome move for a business that has not been doing well due to lack of promotion of the craft.

“We are lacking people who love to do sleuk rith these days . . . and there is no promotion [of the art]. The encouragement from the government will help to maintain our tradition . . . We make [sleuk rith] when we receive orders for it, but if there are no orders, we do not produce it,” she said.

According to Van Bunna, of the Cults and Religions Ministry, while some pagodas still have old sastras, which consist of multiple leaves that are bound together, many do not.

“Some pagodas have scripts that were left from the past, but during the Pol Pot regime, many were destroyed. Now the government is urging all pagodas and schools to keep them for future generations,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Restrictions re-imposed in capital as Covid cases surge

    Amid the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has shown no sign of subsiding with 750 infections and 10 deaths reported on June 2 alone, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has decided to re-impose the suspension of all occupations and business activities deemed as posing high risk of

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway 51% complete

    The construction of the nearly $2 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway is 51.35 per cent complete and is expected to be finished in 2023, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of state Vasim Sorya. Invested in by Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd, the first expressway in

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • First 7-Eleven store to open mid-June, ambassador says

    Thai retail conglomerate CP All Pcl will open Cambodia’s first 7-Eleven convenience store in mid-June, Cambodian ambassador to Thailand Ouk Sorphorn told The Post on June 1. The Bangkok-listed 7-Eleven franchise operator, the retail arm of Charoen Pokphand Group Co Ltd, granted CP All (Cambodia)

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • US embassy guard gets Covid despite two doses of Pfizer jab

    The Covid-19 tracking commission on June 4 said a security guard at the US embassy in Phnom Penh had contracted the novel coronavirus, despite having received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot two weeks ago. Embassy spokesperson Chad Roedemeier confirmed the SARS-CoV-2 infection to The