Leang Seckon
The Elephant and the Pond of Blood
2013
Mixed media and collage on canvas
200 x 150 cm (79 x 59 in)

The phrase “the elephant and the pond of blood” is known and remembered by the Cambodian people. It is a frightening phrase. People once associated it with a fortunate Buddhist saying that looks to the future. The killing fields of the mid-1970s gave it a much darker meaning.

In the Buddhist verse, an elephant stands in blood that rises, eventually reaching its belly. The elephant is the biggest, strongest and most powerful animal, but it is also soft. In ancient times, people used elephants to help build temples; they also rode elephants into battle. Nowadays, elephants are used for touring the temple complex at Angkor Wat.

Please look at this painting: the elephant is decorated with flowers to look like a royal elephant. The passengers are a tiger and a dog. They represent stupid people who kill millions of other people. Blood floods over the field where the elephant walks. A storm of blood blows incense smoke that comes from the center of people’s hearts. The blood covers belief, peace, culture and knowledge, and destroys temples, Buddhist statues and Buddhism.

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