A bid to revive Khmer verse

Puy Kea
Puy Kea Hong Menea

A bid to revive Khmer verse

When Puy Kea was a teenager, he often listened to his parents and teachers reciting the poetry of Krom Ngoy, known as the father of Khmer poetry.

Ngoy, who was born in 1864 and died in 1936, was considered a talented wordsmith and renowned for his skill playing the kse diev, a traditional one-stringed instrument.

The Bondam Krom Ngoy, a collection of Ngoy’s verse published by the Buddhist Institute, is considered a repository of Khmer wisdom. It contains all kinds of advice about how to lead a good life, for parents, children, married couples, workers and even monks.

But when Kea went to look for the book, the only copy he could find was at the Buddhist Institute in poor quality and written in Pali and Sanskrit.

“It was hard to read because of the paper and the language,” the journalist and academic said this week.

Concerned that Ngoy’s wisdom was going to waste, Kea decided to publish a new collection of the poet’s work himself, compiling and translating fragments into a 100-page tome.

“I spent more than a year researching and collecting documents from different publications, checking spellings and meanings because sometimes people wouldn’t understand what he meant,” Kea said.

“I love all of the advice and I want to share it,” he said added. “For example, his advice on education: ‘If you want [life] to be easy, study hard and money will run to you.’”

Kea said 10,000 copies of the new edition of Bondam Krom Ngoy have been printed, with about 4,000 to be donated to university, pagoda and school libraries, and the rest on sale for $3 at bookshops.

“Although some Cambodian children don’t have a culture of reading, I do hope that they start to read their favourite book like this poem book for pleasure,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group