Posted by khmernews on November 8, 2006

Wat Than is one of the only Wats in Phnom Penh with no paintings. I was given two explanations for this anomaly.

The first is that the  new Wat was funded by the wife of Prince Ranariddh, who is herself a Muslim, Since the Koran forbids pictures of persons, no pictures were included in wat Than. Teh other explanation, told me by an old monk at Wat Than, said it was only a matter of expense. It would be very expensive to complete a series of paintings and to maintain them, so this expense was spared and no paintings were done.

So the interior has only a few modest designs on the walls. It is also the only Wat I know with a set of rather large chandeliers hanging form the ceiling. The large golden Buddha statue gives the lie to both explanations give above for the lack of paintings – it is both expensive, and a graven image, forbidden by the Koran.
Wat Than has existed for a long time, formerly called Wat Nuom Moniram, but it had fallen into disuse well before the Pol Pot era. It was not used or renovated after the Pol Pot terror. In 1980 the Wat Than workshop for the handicapped was founded, but monks did not return to Wat Than until 1990. the present edifice was built in 1994.

The handicapped workshop provides training and employment for people with all sorts of disabilities. The manufacture handicrafts and other gifts which are popular with the expatriate community.


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