This young monk climbed through a window and opened the door from the inside to allow me in.
Scruffy, a few cows and a backdrop of dry fields- could be any one of a thousand rural Cambodian temples…
The Silver Pagoda, one of Cambodia’s most revered temples, has 642 metres of murals painted on its interior compound walls. The murals were painted in 1904-1905 and depict the Khmer version of The Ramayana a Sanskrit epic poem.
It must once have been a fabulous sight.
But now, most of the murals have been damaged with many beyond repair. Water damage, time, and the tropical weather have done their thing, and although a restoration programme lead by Poland in 1985-1993 saved some of the paintings, the project finished before completion as the money ran out.
So there is a desperate need to restart the restoration, but still the funds aren’t there, although I believe some half-hearted efforts began and faltered.
The murals above haven’t only been damaged by water and the weather though. They have been covered with paint from imbecilic workmen carelessly using a paint spray gun.
That’s right, workers in the revered Silver Pagoda, which houses many of the Nation’s great treasures, couldn’t see the sense in covering objects of great cultural importance before spraying paint on the walls above the murals.
They couldn’t see that beneath their feet there was something that deserved great care…
It’s enough to make you weep…
I haven’t been back to see if the restoration has begun again.