Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Museum lauds pre-Angkor statues

Museum lauds pre-Angkor statues

Museum lauds pre-Angkor statues

100121_03
The exquisite pre-Angkor finds included a rare complete standing Buddha (left) and a nearly intact unidentified male deity.

FOUR pre-Angkorian religious statues found in Kampong Speu province on Friday are among the most intact and artistically impressive objects known to have originated from that period of Khmer history, directors at the National Museum of Cambodia told the Post on Wednesday.

Hab Touch, director of the National Museum, was unreserved in his excitement about the seventh-century statues, ranging in height from 40 to 140 centimetres, which reached the museum in Phnom Penh on Saturday.

“There are two sculptures of the Buddha and two male deities. The sculptures are very outstanding in terms of historical and artistic quality. The standing Buddha is one of the best we have, truly a masterpiece of Khmer art.”

Hab Touch said the artefacts were discovered accidentally by residents of Samrang Teung district as they cleared a small mound from a rice field .

“As soon as the villagers uncovered the pieces, they knew these were antiquities. They contacted the local authorities, who brought [the objects] to their headquarters.… We immediately went to Kampong Speu to arrange for the transport of the pieces,” he said.

“Not many pre-Angkor sculptures have survived to the present. That for me is why the discovery of these sculptures is so important: They can open up a new chapter in understanding Cambodian history.”

One of the areas the sculptures may shed more light upon is the complex interplay of Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions that mark the art and architecture of the pre-Angkor period.

While the standing and seated Buddhas both exhibit classical mudras, or symbolic gestures, which carried into subsequent periods, experts have found the unidentified male deities more difficult to interpret.

“We can tell if a statue is pre-Angkorian in part from the type of sandstone they used, but especially from the style, from the shape of the body and the face,” explained Sam Thida, the National Museum’s deputy director.

“Pre-Angkor deities typically exhibit the cylindrical object atop the head, but beyond that we don’t know which deities these statues represent.... We need to do more research.”

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,