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Krom Ngoy's Codes of Conduct by Chapey Musician Lokta Prach Chhoun

Krom Ngoy

Krom Ngoy (born Ouk Ou; 1865 – 1936) was a famous Khmer poet and a master of Kse Diev. His fame spread to Thailand, and he was invited to sing for the then Thai King. He was well liked by the king and officials and was entitled “Phai-ros Loe Koern” in Thai or “Phee-rom Pheasa Ou” in Khmer which would mean one who is excellent in the use of language.

He generally included issues relevant to ways of life of the people in his songs or poetic teachings. They include: working in the farm to earn a living, choosing a spouse, poverty and its causes, ignorance of the people, consequences of laziness and inactiveness, the dominance of foreigners on Khmer people, the loss of sovereignty, and the decline of the Khmer culture and literature.

He was later on invited by the then director of the Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh, Ms Suzanne Karpeles, to sing his poems in a slow phase so that his wisdom could be written down for later generations. His poetic teachings have been published by the Buddhist Institute.

Prach Chhoun

Prach Chhoun, born November 1936 in Samor, Takeo Province, Cambodia, is a storyteller and blind musician of Chapey, a traditional and popular Khmer folk art form. In this video clip, he sings Krom Ngoy's famous code of conduct verse in Khmer traditional music instrument called Chapey Dang Veng which is the musical form being recognised by UNESCO in 2016 as an intangible cultural heritage. He instructs using maxims and proverbs anchored in the Khmer land.

In 1943, he lost his sight at the age of 7 due to illness. He began to learn Chapey at the age of 12. His first participation in the Chapey contest was in 1962 and was ranked number 1 among 20 total participants.

In the Khmer Rouge regime, he returned to live in his hometown with his family. In June 1979, he was summoned by the new government after the end of the Pol Pot regime to sing on national radio. He was one of the few surviving bards like Kong Nay because they were both blind.

From 1980 to 2001: he works for the national radio in Phnom Penh. And in 2003, he was invited to participate in the first concerts in France, at Les Instants de Rezé festival.

He passed on November 17, 2018, at Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh at the age of 82. Upon his death, he was bestowed with the honourable title 'Bridhacharya Bhiramy Vohar Shashtr' and his statue was inaugurated in January 2019 at the home village, Takeo.

His discography includes Chapey Roeung Kuch Vong [the story of Gudavong], Roeung Maha Upasika Visakha [Chapey Neang Visakha], Roeung Angkulimeal, [Angulimala Story], Chapey Puthappavat [The Life of the Buddha], Preah Maha Mokhalean [Maha Moggallana].

The Statue of Bridhacharya Bhiramy Vohar Shahstr Prach Chhoun, Takeo, Jan. 27, 2019.

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