Exhibit in the Sichuan University Museum (四川大学博物馆) – Chengdu, Sichuan, China. Image by Daderot ➚ available under a Creative Commons License

Happy New Year: 新年快乐

 

The links between China and Cambodia run as long and deep as the Mekong River. Come celebrate our shared history with Bambu Stage.  It’s the Year of the Rat, promising vitality, intelligence, and hope.  Bring family and friends to greet the Chinese New Year in our enchanting oasis of lush greenery, dancing fires, twinkling lights, red splashes, beating drums, and awe-inspiring shows.

The riddles of the relationship between early Chinese and Khmer civilizations are nested in the jungles and the great waterways rippling with the echoes of Chinese traders.  Ruins in Angkor Wat and other temples reveal friezes illustrating Chinese delegations honoring the Kings and ancient Chinese books speak of a splendid kingdom blossoming in Cambodia, known as Funan. According to the ancient Chinese classic, The Book of the Liang, two Chinese ambassadors named Chu-ying and K’ang-tai, traveled to the court of Funan around 240 CE.  Envoys were sent back and forth for many decades beyond and the Chinese Emperor Jing built a special Funan music school to relish in the kingdom’s music and traditions. This was just the beginning of our cultures interweaving that spans an almost unimaginable distance in time.  The migrations continued throughout the centuries, bringing dignitaries, workers, merchants, and scholars. One such man, Zhou Daguan, known by his Khmer name Chiv Ta Koan, visited the Kingdom of Angkor for one year in 1296 and left behind the only firsthand account of the Angkorian Empire in his book, The Customs of Cambodia. The Khmer monarchies of the pre-French colonial kingdoms welcomed Chinese merchants and manicured patron-client relationships that instilled a Chinese economic dominance that remains tenacious today.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) was officially recognized by the Kingdom of Cambodia in 1958 and the ruling elite cemented their association and shared interests.  The Chinese Communist Party under Chairman Mao backed Sihanouk’s exiled government when the Khmer Republic movement deposed the King in a 1970 coup d’état orchestrated by Marshal Lon Nol.  King Sihanouk kept close ties with China, living in Beijing during periods of self-imposed exile.  Yet, China is believed to have been the main source of funding for the Khmer Rouge and Zhang Chunqiao, the architect of China’s Cultural Revolution, traveled to Democratic Kampuchea in secret to help the Khmer Rouge blueprint a constitution in 1976. Nonetheless, The King Father His Majesty Samdech Sihanouk died in Beijing in 2012.

Modern times have frequently been fraught with political and social tensions created by both sides and leaders using conflict for their own purposes – but all the while Khmers and Chinese continued to intermarry, beget children, nestle into villages or become formidable business tycoons.

The Teochew, Cantonese Hainanese, Hokkien, and Hakka people migrated from their diverse Chinese provinces and each group created their own distinctive attributes in villages and cities as rice merchants, shopkeepers, construction tradesmen, pepper plantation owners, bankers, sellers of Chinese medicines, and hotel and restaurant developers.

Chinese Cambodians or Sino-Khmers are a sizeable portion of the nation’s population and play a powerful role in Cambodia’s economy, culture, and development. There are many who can trace their ancestry back to China, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, members of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, Opposition Leader Sam Rainsy, and the beloved “King of Khmer Music’, Sinn Sisamouth.

In the Land of Wonder, it is worthy to be reminded of our deep and timeworn connection with China and to welcome the Chinese New Year with gusto and good spirit.

Red in Chinese – 红色 hóng sè

When we think of China, we image vistas of crimson lanterns and banners floating from rooftops and temples, fancy dragon puppets hanging from poles, the elegant calligraphy stamped with red-ink seals, and fancy red envelopes filled with money.  As long ago as 2,000BC, the Chinese believed the color red possessed a spiritual power to protect against demons, mischance, and mischief.  Red represents the sun, with all its fire and glory.

Red boldly symbolizes the promise of life: protection, good fortune, joy, and contentment. Red is used for auspicious occasions.  And red is the color of the Chinese New Year.

Archie, our retriever, will welcome you with a bright red bow and Bambu Stage will let the spirit of red flow and dance in the air!