There are many – many – things I remember from any ceremony I attended in O’Russei village, a.k.a one of my offices, a.k.a one of my fieldwork centres. The Eid El Fitr in autumn 2007 was no exception, and I have transcribed a few – very few – notes from it here. On that particular day though there was something beside the ritual itself that I remembered: an exhibition of simple family pictures on the walls of the village mosque. Continue reading
After the annual “doubt” moment, searching for a hiding moon, the word spread out on September 11: Ramadan would start on 13.09.07 this year, as it could be heard on TV and radio all through Cambodia in the Mufti Sos Kamry message.The occasion on this first eve for families in Chrok Romirt (Kompong Chhnang province) to light homes with candles. The opportunity for kids to run around, deliberating on the most beautiful illuminations. A few hours later, in the middle of the night, families would wake up for a last meal with the call from the mosque. A habit for a number of villagers whom, as blacksmiths, are used to nocturnal activities.
The Mawlid, or annual celebration of the anniversary of the respected ‘saint’ Imam San, was performed by his followers on Monday 3rd September 2007, on the top of Udong Mount – a former khmer capital – where the Imam San founded his community by the 19th century.
* First, you may want to check out Episode I.
So here I am, in Siem Reap… to work, as I’ll be giving a short talk on “Cambodian society” in situ, just minutes from now. But well, who said work and pleasure can’t be mixed??? I still have one more hour before the plane takes off, back to Phnom Penh. What the hell could I be doing in Siem Reap? Ideas? Well, one may come to mind… I take a look at my big fake luxury watch and run straight to the EFEO (Ecole Francaise D’Extreme Orient). I meet there with Christophe Pottier, an archaeologist, who is naturally much more speed than I am, even without the flight-hurry-schedule. And that’s a good thing because he goes straight to the point when I ask: ‘’ever heard of this mythical Cham inscription in Angkor Wat Chams so often talk about?’’
Always enjoyed to see how history is played… Chams have all kind of myths to justify their ancestrality in Cambodia. One illustration of this ‘anteriority to khmers’ in the country is the idea that Chams would be the ones who indeed built Angkor Wat. Proof : the inscription in cham which is supposed to be found on the temple walls. Except… I never found it. Maybe it didn’t even exist I thought. So I forgot about it. But recently the EFEO (Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient) in Paris contacts a few people and luckily I am in the list: “we have a problem Phnom Penh”, “It is a weird, weird inscription found on the Angkor site not really readable since it is in cham from cambodia”. “Emiko, you are going to like it!”… and did I liked it… MIRACLE !!!! Here comes the inscription that I have always been hearing so much from, and that I have been so much searching for : the mythical cham inscription from Angkor Wat. So, today, I went to one of my ‘offices’: a village where elders are often able to read the script and complete the very light transcription I am able to make on my own… It was amazing (yet not so surprising) to see the enthusiasm of everyone after the Friday prayer: it was as heavy as the air around us. It was a real event and the discutions were endless. “This is too big, we have to work on it again, more… And this year, 2425 buddhist era (=1881), what does this mean since Angkor is … much more older ???”. Want to know more ? Follow me next week as I will be in Siem Reap for another episode of ”A la poursuite de l’inscription chame”!
To be continued… Episode II
Phnom Penh, February 11, 2013, Emiko Stock.
* Originally very informally shared with a couple of friends over my personal FB page, 08/08/09.
Those little field-notes are reminiscences of the past blogs and shares. While they are not proud of their flaws, I thought they shouldn’t be punished for it. Hopefully you will forgive them to be just as they come, just as they will remain.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.