16 February 2013

1990 Mongkol Borei Cover to Phnom Penh

Here is a 1990 Cambodian domestic letter sent from Mongkol Borei (spelt "Mongkol Borey" on postmark) of Banteay Meanchey Province to the national capital, Phnom Penh.

Mongkol Borei is the southernmost and most densely populated district of Banteay Meanchey.  The district is named after a river of the same name which runs from Prachinburi of Thailand to Tonlé Sap (Great Lake) of Cambodia.

Mongkol Borei used to be in the historic province of Battambang.  In  the18th century Siam annexed northwest Cambodia, since then the area was under Bangkok's rule until 1907 when Siam was obligated to cede the conquered Cambodian territory to France under the Franco-Siamese Treaty.

In 1988 Battambang Province was split.  Five northern districts including Mongkol Borei were separated to form the new Banteay Meanchey Province.  Banteay Meanchey means the fort of victory, and Mongkol Borei means the blessed town.   This land of victory and blessing is predominantly rural, important economic activities include farming and fishing.

Map showing Mongkol Borei with Banteay Meanchey Province in red.

10 February 2013

The Great Crown of Victory on Cambodian Stamps

During the 1st February parade of HM King Father Norodom Sihanouk's funeral, three of the many royal regalia items were included in the procession as a visual representation of King Father's sovereign status - the Great Crown of Victory (Preah Moha Mokot Reach), the Scared Sword (Preah Khan Reach) and the Royal Gold Shoes (Preah Soporbatuka).

The Great Crown of Victory (Preah Moha Mokot Reach) is the royal crown worn by Cambodian sovereigns during the coronation ceremony.  Made of solid gold weighing 10kg and precious stones, the crown is in the form of cone in several stages finishing in a tapering spire, symbol of the mythic sacred mountain "Phnom Preah Somerureach" (Preah Meru - the Central Mountain) where divinities live.  During the coronation ceremony, the head of royal Brahman priests, on behalf of the royal government and Cambodian people, respectfully offers land, water, forest and mountains throughout the kingdom to the new king for his rule.

This postcard features three king's crowns, 
the leftmost elaborately decorated mokot is the Great Crown of Victory.

 This is one of the oldest surviving photographs depicting
the Great Crown of Victory, HM King Norodom I in royal regalia taken in 1860s.

The Great Crown of Victory is the only regale which has appeared on Cambodian stamps since 1980.

600r and 800r stamps from the 2001 set "80th Birthday of HM Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia"  
show the King Father with the Great Crown of Victory.

Royal regalia is not only an essential part of the Cambodian monarchy, it is the symbol of nation.  During Lon Nol's coup d'état in 1970, the crown and some other regalia disappeared from the Royal Palace and  they are never found.

HM King Norodom Suramarit wearing the Great Crown of Victory
on this 1959 maxicard.

In 1993 when the Cambodian monarchy was restored, the King Father instructed that no new regalia be made for his coronation with at view to economy.  Gilded remakes were used for HM King Sihamoni's enthronement in 2004.

A remake of the Great Crown of Victory was used in HM King Norodom Sihamoni's coronation.