The Preah Khan, or “Sacred Sword” of Cambodia, was the palladium of the kingdom for over a thousand years, though exactly when the tradition first began remains a mystery. Jayavarman VII (c. 1181-1218) is depicted in a relief at Bayon temple holding the sword (as is Suryavarman at Angkor Wat). Jayavarman also consecrated a Buddhist temple complex later known as Preah Khan, suggesting the sword may once have been housed there. The 108cm sword with bejeweled hilt is sheathed in a gold-and-silver scabbard featuring scenes from the Hindu epic Ramayana.
The Silver Nandin
With the Sacred Sword lost to the Khmer, a silver cast of Nandin, the mount of the god Shiva and long-time icon of worship in Cambodia, is believed to now serve as the palladium of the Kingdom. Located within a private shrine inside the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, the provenance and history of this important religious item remain a mystery.
(Le taureau Nandin; photograph by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra)