More Buddha sculptures found at Tonle Sngout site

via Khmer Times, 09 August 2017: More fragments of Buddha images have been found at the Tonle Sngout, which made the news last week because of the impressive discovery of a 6-foot tall sandstone guardian statue. The new fragments include a possible medicine Buddha.

Four sandstone remnants of Buddha statues dating back to the Jayavarman VII era discovered at an Angkor-era hospital site.

Source: Ancient Buddha remnants found – Khmer Times

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In Kampong Chhnang, a village guards its spiritual guardian from government hands

via Phnom Penh Post, 28 July 2017: This case from Cambodia highlights the blurred lines between archaeological heritage and folk belief.

Under normal circumstances, found artefacts in Cambodia are handed over to the government and taken to the National Museum. But sometimes – like in an ongoing case in Kampong Chhnang province – the desires and beliefs of villagers clash with the government’s idea of cultural preservation

Source: In Kampong Chhnang, a village guards its spiritual guardian from government hands, Phnom Penh Post

Bayon style Buddha Statue Discovered by Farmer

via Cambodia Daily , 07 July 2017:

A Siem Reap province farmer tilling soil for a new crop found a Bayon-style sandstone statue of the Buddha that was crafted in the 12th or 13th century, an official said on Thursday.

The exhumed piece, depicting a seven-headed serpent rising over the seated Buddha, was uncovered on Wednesday in Svay Loeu district’s Kantuot commune and handed to the Apsara Authority the same day, said Long Kosal, spokesman for the authority, which is responsible for maintaining the Angkor Archaeological Park world heritage site.

Source: Ancient Buddha Statue Discovered by Farmer – The Cambodia Daily

Pre-Angkor statue discovered in Takeo | Khmer Times | News Portal Cambodia |

Khmer Times, 23 June 2017

An ancient statue made before the Angkor era was discovered on Wednesday in Takeo province’s Borei Chulsar district as a woman was excavating land to build a home, police said yesterday.

District police chief Khuth Khin said the woman, Chea Phoeun, 38, was excavating land in Kok Por commune when she discovered the ancient statue.

“The villager who is the land owner saw the hand of the statue appear from the ground,” he said. “She cleaned it and is using it to pray for happiness.”

Source: Pre-Angkor statue discovered in Takeo | Khmer Times | News Portal Cambodia |

Iconic Ayutthaya Buddha face has near miss with falling branch

The Nation, 06 June 2017:

The Buddha face that has long been a landmark of the world-heritage Ayutthaya Historic City yesterday experienced a near miss from a falling tree branch.

Source: Near miss for world-famous Ayutthaya Buddha face

See also:
Saved by Centimeters: Ayutthaya’s famous Buddha tree escapes damage by falling branch (VIDEO) (Coconut, 07 June 2017)

A huge branch of a famous Bodhi tree in Ayutthaya breaks off (Thai PBS, 07 July 2017)

Even With the Khmer Rouge Gone, Cambodian Antiquities Are Still Looted

The Observer, 12 April 2017: “I went into it because I thought I might be able to afford to buy what I thought was a copy of a Cambodian statue in the window. Then the man named a price which was absolutely incredible. I said, ‘Do you mean that this piece is authentic?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Then you are a thief.’”

An exiled prince tries to recover antiquities stolen from his home country of Cambodia.

Source: Even With the Khmer Rouge Gone, Cambodian Antiquities Are Still Looted | Observer

Felled sacred tree given new life as sculptures

A sacred rosewood tree that was controversially cut down last year in Siem Reap gets a new life as sacred sculptures.

Wood from a revered rosewood tree that Apsara Authority employees cut down in November has found new life as five sculptures depicting historical and folk spirits, appeasing villagers upset by the felling of their sacred tree.

Five employees for Apsara, which manages Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap province, were arrested under orders from Prime Minister Hun Sen following a national outcry over the fate of the centuries-old tree from Siem Reap City’s Kokchak commune.

Source: Felled Angkor Rosewood Tree Reborn as Sacred Sculptures – The Cambodia Daily

Ancient pottery, Buddha head found buried in Chiang Rai

Workers repairing a small dam found anicent pottery and a large Buddha head in northern Thailand

CHIANG RAI – Ancient pottery and the large head of a Buddha statue have been found buried near a community weir in Muang district of this northern province.

Source: Ancient pottery, Buddha head found buried at weir | Bangkok Post: news

Brahma heads returned to Cambodia

In addition to the statue of Rama, two more sculptures – heads of Brahma – from Koh Ker were returned to Cambodia last month.

Returned Brahma head from Koh Ker. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160331
Returned Brahma head from Koh Ker. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160331

More looted antiquities welcomed home
Phnom Penh Post, 31 March 2016

For the second time in less than a week, the National Museum held a ceremony yesterday marking the homecoming of priceless Angkorian artifacts looted during the civil war.

Two 10th-century Brahma heads, looted from a temple at the Koh Ker archaeological site in Preah Vihear, were added to the museum’s collection of antiquities, alongside a 10th-century Rama statue returned by an American museum on Monday.

The heads, which had formerly belonged to an unnamed private collector in Paris, were discovered by Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong in 1994 while he was the Cambodian ambassador to France, according to the release.

Full story here.

Prof. Ashley Thompson Inaugural Lecture – Double Realities: The Complex Lives of Ancient Khmer Statuary

Readers in London may be interested in Ashley Thompson’s lecture in early May. Booking required.

Prof. Ashley Thompson Inaugural Lecture – Double Realities: The Complex Lives of Ancient Khmer Statuary
Date: 5 May 2016
Venue: Brunei Gallery
Time: 6.30 pm

The Angkorian empire produced one of the most remarkable sculptural traditions in human history. Starting from Hindu and, to a lesser extent, Buddhist models, Khmer artists invented bold new techniques and sophisticated aesthetic principles that underpinned their exploration of anthropomorphic statuary. And yet the representational presuppositions of Western aesthetics only cloud our understanding of this innovation: perhaps art, in this context, does not stand in a mimetic relationship to the world, but rather itself constitutes an ‘original’, an embodied and multivalent reality that calls for a different relationship with its ‘viewer’.

This lecture will begin with a reflection on the Khmer ‘portrait statue’, considered in the traditional art history of ancient Cambodia to have been a late and peculiar invention of the reign of the last of the great Angkorian kings. However I will challenge this view, and indeed take the double ontology of these sculptures – embodying at once gods and people – to in fact constitute the baseline reality of essentially all Angkorian and post-Angkorian statuary.

Nothing is as it seems: even Angkor itself, this exemplary outlier of the Sanskrit ‘cosmopolis’ that flowered in the late first and early second millennia CE, is construed both as a fiercely singular local dominion and a universal kingdom. Microcosm and macrocosm are each set off against and magnified in the other. Within this context, a number of otherwise incongruous phenomena can be understood as manifestations of an underlying bifid structure: from the fluid ambiguity in the gendering of certain anthropomorphic representations to the determination with which religious practitioners, then as now, experience their own lives as participating in a larger cosmic life variously conveyed by art.

More details and booking information here.