Monday, January 5, 2009

Reaching for the sky

Colourful stupas abound at Wat Botum
Whilst walking to Meta House last night, I took a detour through Wat Botum and whilst I was admiring the brightly painted and ornate stupas that point skywards, I got into a conversation with a monk who'd just been for religious instruction at Wat Ounalom. We talked about the Buddhist teachings within a set of paintings by Khmer artist Svay Ken, who the monk had heard had passed away the previous month. He was interested to see my digital photos of some of Svay Ken's paintings and we talked about some of the behaviours that are contained within the paintings. He said he was very pleased to see these paintings and hoped they would be made available to the public as a way of strengthening the bond between Buddhist teachings and the public. I had to agree that if good behaviours can be made more appealing, either by way of painting or even music, then that is a great way to instil such morals and teachings to a wider audience. It was only a brief meeting but I think we both went away happy with our connection and agreement on the topic. By the way, Wat Botum is one of Phnom Penh's five original wats and dates back to 1422. In those days it was a small island surrounded by a lotus blossom-filled pond. Today, Wat Botum has been extrensively rebuilt and the main vihara dates from 1937. The compound contains many decorated stupas, some of which house the ashes of members of the royal family. It is also the seat of the Thammayut (royalist) Buddhist sect, the smaller of the two main Buddhist sects in Cambodia and which gained prestige because of its adoption by royalty and the aristocracy.
The stupas of Wat Botum near the Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument
The royal stupas of Wat Botum


Blogger zYz said...

hi andy,

im from singapore and i chanced upon your blog by accident. it is a great resource with interesting reads and beautiful pictures. i only recently stumbled into the country and loved it so much ive visited it 4 times in a year! well, on two occasions i had to bring my students on a community learning project but what the heck
! i love siem reap so much i called it my home town! anyways, glad to find someone as mad about cambodia as i am. cheers mate!

January 6, 2009 at 3:17 AM  

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