The Killing Fields, Cambodia

the stupa built to house the remains of the dead

the stupa built to house the remains of the dead

spirit house, a tradition which predates both Hinduism and Buddhism in Cambodia — meant to provide shelter for spirits who have no place to rest

spirit house, a tradition which predates both Hinduism and Buddhism in Cambodia — meant to provide shelter for spirits who have no place to rest

the Killing Tree - where children were brutally killed

the Killing Tree – where children were brutally killed

skulls in the stupa

skulls in the stupa

the stupa - note the Garuda and the Naga motif

the stupa – note the Garuda and the Naga motif

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2 Comments to “The Killing Fields, Cambodia”

  1. Looking at your photo of the spirit house, I’m having a
    delayed reaction to an art installation I saw at Palais de
    Tokyo in Paris a couple of months back. It featured rows of
    bird houses, all built from the wood of the doors and
    shutters found in the home of a serial killer. In spite of
    the mind-numbing artspeak on the label, I managed to
    understand that the artist meant them as shrines to the
    victims’ souls. I hadn’t known about this Cambodian
    tradition then. Now I find myself genuinely moved by the
    memory of the exhibit I had found vaguely exploitative.

  2. Thank you for sharing your memory here. I went to the Killing Fields with a bit of apprehension, afraid it might have some of that exploitative flavor too. I was thoroughly impressed, though, with the way the memorial had been handled. The explanations and insights offered are tastefully done, despite the horrific nature of the events that happened there. The forgiving spirit of the Cambodian people, even as they called the perpetrators of the genocide to account, was moving, and made me feel that perhaps this was the reason for the happy spirit we found in Cambodia, even though the genocide that happened there is not very far in the past. It was quite an amazing experience.

    I’m glad you found something in it that resonates for you too.

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