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Cambodian Folktales





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The Naga figures prominently in Cambodian Art
The Naga, the seven-headed sea serpent.   Photo courtesy of Sophear Ung
The Legend of Cambodia

     C ambodians trace their ancestry back to a Brahman prince named Kaundiya, he was from a powerful kingdom in Takkisila( north-west India), unable to inherit because he was the second son. He consulted an astrologer who advised him to get the sacred javelin from the temple of Drona (Hindu god) and seek his fortune at sea.

          The prince and his crew traveled for several months and were lost in a powerful storm, when it finally cleared up, Kaundiya by now desperate for food and water made a promise to settle to wherever his javelin landed. The spear hit an island which was ruled by a powerful Naga king, a seven-headed sea serpent. Luckily at the time, the king was not present on the island, his daughter, the princess Soma tried to defend her home from Kaundiya and his men. She lost and surrended to him, the prince fell in love with the princess and married her.

          The Naga king, then drank all the water surrounding the island, land emerged and presented this new kingdom to the couple as his wedding present. It is there that Kaundiya and Soma settled and founded the line of kings in Cambodia.

This story is often performed in classical dance.

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Cambodian Folktales created by Ithara Phlong,

last modified: December 15, 2000