Monday, August 30, 2010
This female Ting Mong had one of the few faces still recognizable after the recent rains in Chi PhatChi Phat, the eco-tourism community that has been hosting visitors to their village (actually its a series of 4 villages; Chi Phat, Chaom Sla, Kam Lort and Teuk Laork) with the help of WildAid for the last couple of years, and which hosted the Hanuman 'fam' trip on Saturday and Sunday, was recently in the grip of an outbreak of Ting Mong. This isn't a tropical disease as you might think, but a simple belief in the power of spirits. Scarecrows are usually found in a field of corn or other crops to scare away birds but you will often see them perched outside homes and are a part of village life and the belief systems of rural Cambodians, who put great stock in their animist spirit forces such as Neak Ta and Ting Mong. Many Khmers believe that an unknown force is embodied in the large puppet-like figure that will protect them from disease or death. You can find Ting Mong constructed using spare clothes and placed in front of the house doorway or gate in the belief that it has the power to drive away the spirit of disease, danger or death. The villagers in Chi Phat had the very same beliefs about a month ago and the Ting Mong pictured here are left-overs from that. About 50% of the houses along the main street had a traditional Ting Mong in residence. Ting Mong is also the name given to the larger-than-life puppets with giant heads that you see at certain festivals in the Khmer calendar.