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Cambodian Folktales

Buddhism is the major religion in Cambodia

The majority of Cambodians are Buddhists

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PROVERBS

Buddhist procession
A Buddhist procession from one village.
      Proverbs provide an understanding to social rules and embody traditional wisdom. Sources of Cambodian proverbs are varied, some are of Indic influences, others are based upon Buddha's sayings but most are entirely of Cambodian origin. Proverbs were held in such high regard that they not only were written down and kept in village temples but taught in the public education curriculum.

Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • The immature rice stalk stands erect, while the mature stalk, heavy with grain, bends over.

Cambodian parents teach their children to humble themselves and show respect towards their elders by stooping over whenever they walk near them. The maturity of the rice grain indicates richness and bounty and in a person, good character and upbringing.

  • Negotiate a river by following its bends, enter a country by following its customs.

To be adaptable and flexible are desirable qualities, especially in new situations and around new people.

  • Don't take rich people as examples.

Pride sometimes lead to behavior that is innapropriate to one's status.

  • If you know a lot, know enough to make them respect you, if you are stupid, be stupid enough so they can pity you.

Stupidity is to be avoided, but being too knowledgeable can lead to boasting.

  • Don't reject the crooked road and don't take the straight one, instead take the one traveled by the ancestors

The importance of tradition and trying something new is not encouraged.

These proverbs help illustrate images that Cambodians come in contact in their everyday life such as rice production, animals and the evironment that they live in.

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Cambodian Folktales created by Ithara Phlong, isphlong@yahoo.com

last modified: December 15, 2000

URL: http://ithara.p.tripod.com/proverbs.html