Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Neak Ta at Phnom Chisor

Neak Ta spirit house at the foot of Phnom Chisor
Continuing my occasional series of interesting Neak Ta spirit houses that I encounter on my travels, here are two from Phnom Chisor. The top one is next to the steps leading to the summit on the northern side of the hill, adjacent to the major stone and slate quarrying taking place at the site. It was quite a large shrine with the two figures inside shrouded in cloth, another one painted on the back wall and some recent offerings. In the lower photo, this spirit house was at the top of the mountain, overlooking the ancient temple that sits on the summit. This time two figures sat under a painted tree on a natural piece of sandstone. I really must get some detailed information on what the figures represent with many of them possessing heavily painted eyebrows, moustaches and small goatee beards. If you know already, let me in on it.
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, as seen in these photos. 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 please, never disturb the contents or you might face the wrath of the all-powerful Neak Ta spirits.

Neak Ta spirit house at the summit of Phnom Chisor overlooking the 11th century temple

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