As per suggestion of my host here, I took a tuk-tuk today to the National Museum of Cambodia. I have been here so many times, that I have seen the most important sites such as Royal Palace, Toul Sleng torture museum, Inpendence monument, Wat Phon temple and some other temples and monastery, and Russian market. I have not gone to killing fields, but my host said it is not that special.
National museum is not about the civil war or Khmer Rouge – it goes further back in history, several thousands of years, about 700 BCE, to the time when Khmers were influenced by two religions from India, by Hinduism, and then by Buddhism. Before that, the Khmer were animists.
Influences from both religions can be seen in the religious art. In the museum, there were many statues of both Hindu dieties and Buddhism related statues. Most interesting to me was that of bird Garuda, since there is also the airline called ‘Garuda air’.
The other interesting diety from the history of Khmer is Hindu diety Vishnu, who was mostly worshipped during the pre-Angkorian period, that is before 700 A.D. Vishnu is the protector of the universe, with four arms, as seen in the small statue on the left. In his hands he is holding a conch, a wheel, a made and a ball.
Sometimes the museum attendants offer a flower to give to the diety statue, and pray and give some money. Guess if I did that.