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Cultural relics crucial for ‘national identity’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A buddha statue is made from copper at Tuol Khsach pagoda in Kampong Chhnang province. Sam Rith

Cultural relics crucial for ‘national identity’

The General Department of Cultural Technique at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts on Sunday expressed concerns that parts of Khmer history risk being forgotten if ancient temples, equipment and appliances dissolve without being repaired.

Director-general Hab Touch told The Post that ancient equipment made from copper is part of the cultural heritage of Khmer history.

If the antiques are destroyed, he said the next generation will be unable to explore their cultural heritage.

Touch added that the preservation of cultural heritage from ancestors is useful in reflecting on the nation and its ancestors.

“Those are very important, a past that we keep to make the present richer. But if we get rid of that past, it will be difficult because it is one of the foundations of development.

“Development does not start from new innovation; it is based on its identity, its foundations, its culture, its society and its civilisation. Otherwise, we won’t know anything and we’ll lose our identity,” he said.

He stressed that the destruction of old antiques leads to the loss of knowledge.

“Commonly, antique things always embody identity and knowledge, including design techniques.

“It is observed that the foundations of development may have come from the techniques in building temples or other old achievements in the pagodas that were left behind for hundreds of years.

“Therefore, ancestor legacy shouldn’t be destroyed in order to get a new one. It leaves development without a solid foundation,” Touch said.

He called on everyone to take care of the heritage legacy of the previous generations. He said it is the basis for them to understand what belongs to the ancestors.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Sangha Council – the Kingdom’s top monastic body – issued a letter calling for an end to the desecration of archaeological artefacts and the metal fragments in them.

It noted the custom of mixing parts of or complete artefacts made of bronze, silver and gold with new metals and moulding them into 'Buddha pratima' or other such idols in pagodas.

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