The Creation of Cambodia

   Continued from the Prologue

MAHA EYSEI: But allow me to introduce myself.  I am Maha Eysei, the ancestral guardian of the performing arts.  I see the past, the present (he smiles) and I see the future.
Music 3.  Battle Music
MAHA EYSEI: There are other, even earlier creation myths told by the small eyed people of the jungle, who worshipped snakes.
Kambu defeats female warriors
Picture 9 Kambu defeats female warriors

In synch with the following we picture the southern gopura - or tower gate - of Angkor Wat and zoom into the image described.

Out of this we have a martial arts display in which Kambu now comes to life and fights these Amazon warriors, finally signifying his victory by placing a spear in the ground (recalling the image from the opening sequence).

MAHA EYSEI: In one version, you can see carved on the southern gopura - or tower gate - of Angkor Wat, an Indian hermit defeated an army of female warriors.  He then planted his spear in the ground to mark the spot where he would found a kingdom.
Music 4. Jungle Music

Noises of the jungle.  Some small natives creep forward stage left with foliage to represent the jungle to worship the Naga Dragon, who appears out of the jungle accompanied by his daughter, the Dragon Princess.  She divests herself of her scaly serpent's body and tail to reveal herself in beautiful human form, but with a cobra head dress.

MAHA EYSEI: In a similar version of the creation myth they say that the daughter of the Naga, the great serpent God of the Jungle, could manifest herself as a human being.

Other dancers from stage right manipulate bands of blue and green material to represent the waves of the sea.  Other, male Dancers appear with boats fixed to their waists (taken from a popular Khmer folk dance) to create the picture of Kambu in a boat.   Similarly female dancers create the picture of the Dragon Princess paddling out to meet him.  Kambu takes a bow and arrow and shoots it into her boat. (This will be done by special effects).

MAHA EYSEI: One day Kambu, a Prince and a hermit from India, was led by a dream to the shores of a great lake, the Tonle Sap.  He was armed with a magical bow.  The Dragon princess paddled out to meet him.  He fired an arrow into her boat.  She was so impressed by his marksmanship that she fell in love with him.

Back projection of Rama shooting a bird through the spokes of a wheel.

MAHA EYSEI: This reminds us of the contest in which Rama the incarnation of Vishnu shot a bird through a moving wheel and won the hand of the beautiful Sita.  For the Cambodians, myth, legend and history are intimately interwoven.

The back projection fades to image of Naga and the actor playing the Naga addresses Kambu.

Bald headed Naga from Preah Vihear
Picture 10:
Bald headed Naga
from Preah Vihear
NAGA: How dare you invade my land?  I should have you put to death.
KAMBU: I come to ask for help.
NAGA: Explain yourself.
KAMBU: In my country I was King, but Shiva, the destroyer, caused a great drought and destroyed our crops.  My people are desolate.  My wife is dead.
NAGA: My daughter has fallen in love with you.
DRAGON PRINCESS: You have pierced my heart.
(Almost a threat)   I desire you.

NAGA: For the sake of peace in my household, we will overlook your crime in coming here.  We shall arrange your marriage.
KAMBU: And we shall build a kingdom that will be a stepping stone to heaven.  We shall call it "the Flying Palaces of the Holy City"
NAGA: (laughs) What on earth do you mean?  How can palaces fly?
KAMBU: Please don't mock me.
NAGA: Explain yourself.
KAMBU: In my country, in the Himalayas, we have a holy mountain.  We call it Mount Meru.   It has five peaks.  The tallest in the centre reaches to heaven.

The Naga looks out to sea - the waving green and blue silk bands - as if he is trying to visualize it.

NAGA: Is it surrounded by the sea?
KAMBU: It is.  We build palaces in the shape of Mount Meru and there in the topmost chamber, after our Kings die, they fly to heaven in these flying palaces; and there they become Gods.
PRINCESS: We shall build such a flying palace in Cambodia.
NAGA: It shall be as you say.
PRINCESS: We shall be father and mother to a new nation.

Kambu presents the Dragon Princess with beautiful costumes and jewellery, which her maids help her to adorn herself with.

MAHA EYSEI: This is why today the Cambodians say they are "born from the Naga" and Khmer weddings symbolize the beautiful legend of the origin of Cambodia when Kambu the first Khmer prince married the Naga princess.  Before their marriage Kambu gave her clothes and jewellery to wear.

The Dragon King makes a great movement and a sucking noise (electronically magnified). The material representing the sea is whisked past and behind his face. The lighting also creates the effect of water disappearing.

MAHA EYSEI: And in exchange her father enlarged the possessions of his son-in-law by drinking up the water that covered the country, So that the people could grow rice; and with the wealth created from rice, he built a capital for Kambu and his daughter.  Today we Cambodians see ourselves as the offspring of a marriage between "culture" and "nature".
Music 5. Marriage music which segues into cultivating and sowing music.

We may mime, dance a brief marriage ceremony here.  This to be decided after consultation with our Khmer cultural expert/ choreographer.  The natives come forward and make obeisance to the married couple.

MAHA EYSEI: To be a true King one had to be a Cambodian and an Indian at the same time.  The inscriptions on the Angkor temples are in both Khmer and Sanskrit, the ancient language of India.

The dance continues with the natives miming sowing and gathering rice.

Continue with The Churning of the Sea of Milk and the Fertility of Angkor

© 2013 Shaun MacLoughlin

If you are interested in this project, please contact Shaun MacLoughlin 

   Introduction to The Flying Palaces of Angkor

   Home Page

we recommend the following books which helped with our rersearch: