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

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Malaysian MP calls on his government to take stand on Cambodian elections

    A Malaysian parliamentarian raised concerns in his country on Wednesday about Cambodia’s July 29 national elections and urged his government to clarify its position on the subject, the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said on Thursday. Wong Chen, a member of the People’s

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not