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
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
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
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