Khmer Buddha


Some years ago (1999 in fact) I spent some months living in Vietnam studying Vietnamese at Ho Chi Minh Social Sciences University in Saigon. I was a devout Buddhist boy at the time, and spent most of my time in the company of monks. I developed some strong friendships with Khmer monks living and working in the city - many people forget that in southern Vietnam the Khmer people make up a sizable minority, and that Saigon itself was once a Khmer city.
These monks showed me a part of Vietnam that I didn't even know existed - whole provinces populated by Khmer people, vast temple complexes populated by 70 or 80 monks, a whole world speaking Khmer and observing the old-fashioned kind of Khmer culture that Pol Pot attempted to destroy in Cambodia itself.
One day, whilst strolling down Dong Khoi, I glanced into one of the fake antique shops and saw this wonderfully goofy Khmer Buddha statue. It was exactly the type made by amateur craftsmen that clutter up houses and temples all over Kampuchea Krom (those mostly Khmer provinces in South and South-Western Vietnam). I fell in love with it and have to have it. The charming woman in the shop sold it to me for an outrageous $60 (I could probably have bought it for $15 in Tra Vinh, where I remembered watching the men make similar statues), and also sold me a small sandalwood Bodhidharma into the bargain.
When I came home I didn't have room for it in my luggage, so it lived for some years in my sister-in-law's house in Ho Chi Minh City, much commented on, though I suspect she thought it hideous. Finally, a couple of years ago, I brought it home with me, and I absolutely cherish it - it is a focal point in my home. For a while he lost an ear (through the efforts of an over-zealous cleaning lady), but Thang repaired him, and now he is looking resplendent once more.

2 comments:

1st persona said...

that buddha statue is really gorgeous!

Miss: phalla said...

HI sir, How are you ? i found your website.it is nice to visit and know

Related Posts with Thumbnails