Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Neak Ta at Wat Prasat

The pagoda of Wat Prasat, in the Bati district just off National Road 2, has a very interesting building in the corner of the temple grounds, which I'll introduce you to very soon. In the meantime, this Neak Ta, or powerful guardian spirit, was residing in a small stone-built spirit house in the grounds of Wat Prasat. Even though Neak Ta are essentially part of the animist beliefs of Cambodians, they are often found in Buddhist pagodas or located elsewhere in a village where the locals believe their powers and energy force will do most good. The shrines or huts of Neak Ta literally contain anything, natural or man-made. The objects represent the land, water and spirit elements and often house small figures, some gaudily painted or worn through time, like the one above. The offerings to the Neak Ta can also be seen in the photo. In many instances, I have seen sculpted items taken from ancient temples and statues and worshipped as Neak Ta. If you see a shrine on your travels, take a moment to look in and see what treasures you can find - but never disturb the contents or you might face the wrath of the all-powerful Neak Ta.

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