Great Coverage of Samdech Euv (King-Father) Norodom Sihanouk’s Funeral

I’m working great guns on my manuscript and the associated Book Proposal for publishers that I’m sending out in the next week. The book has a working title of Deathpower: Buddhism’s Ritual Imagination in Cambodia, though the only thing I really care about in there is the word “Deathpower.” 

I’m also teaching and doing other stuff. Did I mention the kids had Spring Break last week and so were home all week while I was teaching, and then my eldest got some sort of pukey-flu that kept him home yesterday, too?

While I do that, I’m not writing on Sihanouk’s funeral, yet. I did promise to do so, and do plan on it.  In the meantime, let me recommend the single-best web-coverage in English I’ve found on the funeral, including day-to-day coverage and reports, and collections of newspaper links, over at LTO Cambodia. LTO stands for Long Time Observer, and his stories, photos, and commentary are worth regular attention.

Sounding Cambodia on August 2, 2011

  • 8-year-old dies after explosion at cremation in Cambodia
  • Alison In Cambodia blogs summer fieldwork
  • Baphuon Reconstruction Completed!
  • Pansukula for Chea Vichea in France
  • Professor Sorpong Peou discovers his father is alive, ater 35 years.
more after the jump…

More ស្មូត្រ Smot In the News!

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post on Trent Walker’s new blog and videos of Smot performances, comes today’s article in the Phnom Penh Post about a new documentary film project on the art.  Neang Kavich has apparently produced a short film on the subject.  Disappointingly, the article doesn’t bother to indicate any way to view the film or contact the maker.

Neang Kavich spent six years studying music at Cambodian Living Arts and is now a first-year student of film at Limkokwing University.

This combination of knowledge prompted him to make a 15-minute documentary on smot with the aim of educating Cambodians about the art form and teaching them not to be afraid when they hear the chants.

via Filmmaker overcomes childhood fear to document eerie Khmer funerary chanting | Lifestyle | The Phnom Penh Post – Cambodia’s Newspaper of Record.

And Trent’s releasing lots of new video on his blog.  My favorite (in spite of some video-synch problems), is his glorious translation and rendition of the Final words of the Buddha, embedded below the break: Continue reading

Trent Walker – ស្មូត្រ – Smot – Funerary Singing

I’ve known Trent since about 2005, if I remember correctly, and since meeting him I’ve never stopped being impressed. He’s a truly dedicated student, a devoted disciple of his teacher, Prum Ut, who passed away last year.

Trent studied the traditional singing style of Smot (ស្មូត្រ) with Prum Ut in Kompong Speu province, through the auspices of Cambodia Living Arts; I was lucky enough to travel with CLA on a few tours and met Prum Ut and his fellow teachers and students.

Trent composed this song in the traditional ‘7-syllable’ (ពាក្យ​ប្រាំពីរ), for his Guru.  Watch it and try not to be touched.  I dare you.

I raise these hands up to you,
Teacher, guru, of this song,
This melody, sung so long
Ago, before the Bo tree.

In your kind home you taught me
To chant Pali reverently,
Treat books with care, so gently,
And to daily humbly pray

To the Three Jewels, our teachers
And all creatures, ’til the day
You and I must fade away,
Die and decay, chasing peace.

Here is the first video of the entire performance (9 videos total).

He has his own blog, which you should read, and which I’ve added to the blogroll below.

Sounding on archaeology

The National Museum in Phnom Penh has received 4 new pre-Angkorean Statues:

“There are two sculptures of the Buddha and two male deities. The sculptures are very outstanding in terms of historical and artistic quality. The standing Buddha is one of the best we have, truly a masterpiece of Khmer art.”
[link, via]

The remains of King Le Du Thong (1679-1731) was reburied earlier this week in a ceremony mixing traditional and contemporary practices. The remains of the king were uncovered in the middle of the last century and were housed in the Vietnamese History Museum until reburial. [link]

Apparently my good friend Hun Hunahpu, the Maize God, was on BBC radio recently. [link and image via Agro Biodiversity Weblog]