The Yeay Penh Statue is monument to the legendary founder of Phnom Penh, located near Wat Phnom in the city centre.
About the Yeay Penh Statue
According to local legend the founder of the city of Phnom Penh is Grandmother Penh. Literally translated ‘Phnom Penh’ means Penh’s hill. The hill is the man made mound of earth upon which the nearby Wat Phnom is built. Some time in the late 14th Century, a date which is often identified as 1372, Penh was gathering fire wood on the banks of the river in the village of Chaktomuk when she saw a large tree trunk floating down the river. Penh pulled the tree trunk to the river bank and found four Buddha statues inside. Grandmother Penh, according to the legend, was a wealthy lady and commissioned the creation of a temple on hill to house the Buddha statues to keep them safe from the frequent flooding that occurred in the area.
Yeay Penh Statue in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh, according to the legend, was founded at point in time. The city did not, however, really start to grow until 1432 when the country’s capital was relocated to Phnom Penh. The former capital of the Angkor Kingdom had been located at Angkor Thom, near Siem Reap. The Siamese army captured the city in 1429 hence the decision to relocate the royal family and government of the Angkor Kingdom further away from the border with Siam. Interestingly, the Khmer King Ponhea Yat who decided to move the capital city to Phnom Penh and embarked on a building programme which really saw the city develop is overlooked as the best candidate for the city’s founder in favour of an old lady of legend, who may or may not have really existed, but found Buddha Statues in a tree trunk.