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Phase II: Regional expansion

Siem Reap

Woodcarved Buddha images in Wat Rajibo - Siem Reap © UNESCO

Project overview and objectives
A training center for traditional Buddhist arts and crafts has been established by the Mahanikay Order at Wat Bo in Siem Reap. The center will focus on training in wood carving, drawing and painting. Wat Raj Bo in Siem Reap is, like Wat Svay Popei in Phnom Penh, a very prominent pagoda and also houses a Buddhist high school. Integrating the management of the training center into the management of the high school will also here contribute to the sustainability of the project outcomes. The Abbot of Wat Raj Bo is a master craftsman himself and the pagoda has been a center for providing training in Buddhist decorative arts for some time now, primarily to lay craftsmen working on different pagodas in the area. The added value of this project is that now monks are being trained as well, using a more formal or standard training curriculum. This will ensure that the objects being created will have the required spiritual meaning and depict stories more authentically.

Project output to date
Preparations of the training venue at Wat Raj Bo also started early 2006. An existing building, which has a dual function as theatre for shadow pupety (another skill and interest of the Abbot of Wat Bo) was upgraded, furniture ordered and installed, tools and supplies purchased. As in Phnom Penh, a grand opening ceremony was held in Siem Reap in May. The ceremony was presided over by Sangharaja Thep Vong, Supreme Patriarch, senior provincial government officials, UNESCO representatives, hundreds of monks and lay community members. Training of the first batch of trainees commenced immediately after the auspicious opening ceremony.