Have you ever imagined having an elephant in your garden? Their sheer size? The fact that elephants have a delicate skin and require daily bathing? This picture was taken around 1900 in Pnomh Penh. Possibly in King Norodom’s palace. The elephant is drinking from a jar on the ground. Well, traditions are kept up in today’s Cambodia, as you can see in the following picture:
Elephant in the street. Phnomh penh. Source: Gluckman.com
Mohadeb You. c. 1900
Despite all my research, I could not find who this severe gentleman was. Probably a high-ranking member of the Cambodian court during Norodom’s reign. He wears a western (French?) decoration on his luxury garments. Notice the bare feet. And the adorned hat on the table. Thaï influence? All I have is a handwritten name: Mohadeb You. Mohadeb or Mahadev is a sanskrit name, further proof of India’s influence that far East. Mahadev or Mahadeva is one of Shiva’s names: Great God. Mahadeva may also refer to Prince Gautama, later to become known as Buddha. This particular Mohadeb? Not the faintest. Limits of the Internet. Anybody know, please comment.
In the absence of caption under the photograph but based on the place in the album, I would assume a court musician or princess in Cambodia. (Elementary, my dear Watson: see the string instrument in her hands). Once again (see previous post) her hair is cut very short. Name of the instrument? c. 1900.
Now see the picture below in today’s Cambodia: young girls rehearsing. See the hands. Left foot. And the concentration. 🙂
Back to 1900. A smiling princess at Norodom’s court? Notice the very delicate sarong. Short hair and bare feet.
Another unknown member of the court? More elaborate dress. She is wearing stockings and western shoes. And I couldn’t resist posting the photograph below, found when researching background! Aren’t they happy? I think it was somebody’s birthday. Wonder what their great-great-grandmother above would think. 🙂
No legend either. I guess a street in Pnom Penh. I would suspect the Royal Palace. Compare with the picture below:
Elephant parade in Pnom Penh. I have an old 8mm film shot by my mother in ’56. Cambodia National Day or something. I’ll post it sometime.
Elephant parade again. Magnificent tusks. See the stone lion left and the Naga, representation of the Cobra.
A market by the Tonlé Sap? (The album’s owner skipped a few legends) I can almost smell the Nuóc Mamh! (fabulous fish sauce in Vietnamese. Don’t know how it’s called in Khmer))
Fishing boats and a fisherman on the banks of the Tonlé Sap. c.1900. It has changed a bit nowadays. See below:
Tonlé Sap. (Sorry: lost the source) 😦
No legend again! Reminded me of the Royal boats of Siam. But I did find what this is: Bon Om Touk, the boat race festival held in November in front of the Royal Palace. Bon Om Touk, or Cambodia water festival is held at the end of November (soon) to celebrate the reversal of tide of the Tonlé Sap. Four days of festivities. Not much change since the above, circa 1900, and below: (source: cambodiaculture.com)
Bon om touk
To be continued… Next stop in our time machine: Vietnam and the Imperial city of Hué.
There have been many visits to this post from all over the world, and Cambodia! (Don’t we all love Stats!) I’m honoured. And pleased to share these century-old photographs, part of the history of Indochina in general and Cambodia in particular. And please do comment: Who was Mohadeb You? Was that the Royal Palace? Why do the women wear their hair cut short?
A lovely week-end to all, across the world!