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Statues of Khmer Heroes Erected at Hun Sen Park

By: The Mekong Times Posted: February-22-2008 in
The Mekong Times

The statues of two famous Khmer literary figures - the great scholar and former Great Supreme Patriarch Choun Nath and the famous poet and musician Krom Nguy - were unveiled at Hun Sen Park Thursday by Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema.

"The statues are for Khmers of this generation and the next to remember these great heroes," Kep Chuktema said at the ceremony. He said that Choun Nath had achieved a great deal in his lifetime, especially his composition of 'Nokor Reach', Cambodia's national anthem; Buddhist songs; and the conservation of Khmer script.

Krom Nguy possessed both great rhetoric and great wisdom and left numerous poems for the education and enjoyment of future generations, he added.

Construction of the statues began in January 2006, said Mam Soth, chief of the Municipal Department of Culture and Fine Arts.

The bronze statue of Choun Nath is 2.4 meters high above a eight-meter high stand and depicts him sitting cross-legged with a ceremonial parasol. It was built at a cost of nearly US$222,000.

The statue of Krom Nguy is located just 50 meters northwest of the Choun Nath statue. Also made of bronze it depicts the great poet sitting cross-legged and playing the Kse Deav (a Khmer string instrument). The statue is a similar size to the statue of Choun Nath and cost US$205,000, added Mam Soth.

Brief biography of the Venerable Choun Nath (1883-1969)
Choun Nath was a great scholar of Khmer literature who devoted his life to the conservation of Buddhism and national literature, especially in the form of Khmer-language dictionaries.

* 1883: Born Mar 11 in Kamreang village, Kampong Speu province to a peasant family. He had two brothers.
* 1897: Ordained as novice monk in Purthiprik pagoda in Kandal's Kandal Steung district. -1899: Pursued his study in Onaloum Pagoda in Phnom Penh.
* 1922-1923: Studied Sanskrit and written inscriptions in a French school in South Vietnam. Besides Khmer, he spoke Thai, Laotian, French, Burmese, English and Vietnamese.
* 1944: Appointed as the abbot of Onaloum Pagoda
* 1948: Promoted to the highest rank in Buddhism as the Great Supreme Patriarch of the Mahanikaya sect.
* 1957: Burmese government presented him with the highest title for a Buddhist monk.
* 1963: Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, head of state of Cambodia, established him as the first Great Supreme Patriarch of Buddhism.
* 1967: Obtained Doctorate Degree in Literature from Norodom Sihanouk from the Royal University of Phnom Penh. This was also the year that the his first edition of his well known Khmer dictionary was released.
* 1969: He died peacefully of natural causes on Sep 25 at the age of 86 at Onaloum Pagoda

Brief biography of the great poet Uk Ou (Krom Nguy) (1865-1936)
Uk Ou or 'Krom Nguy' remains the most prolific and best remembered Khmer poet. He wrote numerous poems which are still loved by the Cambodian public.

* 1865: Born in Prey Andoung Svay village, Kandal province. He had 6 siblings, and his father was the Kambol commune chief.
In his childhood, he was ordained as a Buddhist monk, but he left the monkhood a few years later. He was re-ordained at the age of 21 at Angboeng Chak Pagoda in his home province.
His second monkhood lasted only five years until he left again to help his father's business. He had a brilliant mind and was a great orator. He was able to sing, recite poetry and play the Kse Deav, and locals looked up to him as a scholar.
He often accompanied his poetry recitals with his own Kse Deav playing. Later King Sisowath, impressed with his talents, allowed him to join the royal orchestra. His fame was not only widespread in Cambodia, but also overseas. The King of Thailand invited him to perform as a singer in Bangkok for three months.
* 1936: He died at the age of 71.

Nguon Sovan is a reporter for the Mekong Times

This article first appeared in The Mekong Times
The Mekong Times is a daily newspaper distributed in Cambodia.
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Statues are the silent

Statues are the silent remembrance of what has been and what made a difference in the past.It is important to share the history of a person to children so they can also pass it to the next generation. A person or country's history is a relevant source of pride and nationalism.


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