Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bring on the Ting Mong

The male Ting Mong figure accepts some riel from this disabled former Army soldier
Traditionally used for raising funds by pagodas, important festivals like P'chum Ben see the appearance of the larger-than-life puppets with giant heads known as Ting Mong, hence it was no surprise to see them at Wat Han Chey, 20kms north of Kompong Cham city on Sunday. Accompanying the monks on their walk to the vihara, and amidst a cacophony of drums, whistles and clashing cymbals, the Ting Mong danced and pranced their way amongst the large crowd of onlookers, collecting small riel notes and drawing lots of laughter and giggles, especially from the children. Rooted in the animist beliefs of many Khmers, they are an important facet of Cambodian culture and despite their playful antics, these traditional clowns form a bridge between the spirit forces and their Buddhist beliefs. The male and female figures, with papier-mache heads and wooden hands, were accompanied by smaller characters including the monkey-boy and would perform a short dance at the promise of a cash windfall. They brought a smile to everyone's lips.
This small girl looked terrified by the two Ting Mong figures in front of her
Accompanied by monkey-boy, the two brightly-dressed Ting Mong figures danced through the crowds
These two Ting Mong figures at Wat Han Chey mercilessly teased the disabled boy sat on the ground, but he responded by lifting up the female's dress! The crowd loved it.


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