The Oddar Meanchey provincial Department of Culture and Fine Arts on May 11 received six artefacts – two diamond pillars and four statues – from monks at Ruot Champei Pagoda in Samrong town’s Ruot Champei village.
Culture department director Hang Yoeurn told The Post that there were another 10 artefacts at Kirimongkul Pagoda, also known as O’Smach Pagoda. Its unidentified chief monk, Yoeurn said, had asked to keep the artefacts there.
Yoeurn said the Kirimongkul Pagoda chief monk had not given any of the artefacts to the department out of belief that they had religious meaning.
The department had arranged with the chief monk to keep the artefacts at the pagoda, but if they were lost or damaged then he would be held accountable.
As for the six artefacts provided by the Ruot Champei Pagoda, Yoeurn said: “We will store these six artefacts at our department’s warehouse because we do not have a museum in the province. We have proposed a budget to build a museum, but I do not know when funds will be available.”
He added that the artefacts’ origins are not known because their condition makes them unrecognisable. Monks and residents did not know either as the artefacts were left in the pagoda’s compound. But the two pillars came from Lberk Temple in the province.
The artefacts are in such bad condition that it would be difficult to restore them.
Yoeurn concluded that the artefacts were traded in Thailand during the civil war in Cambodia. But a Thai trader was not satisfied with them, and they were abandoned. Later, residents had found them and delivered them to the pagoda.