THe Lone Apsara

THe Lone Apsara

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Thin Veil Between Two Worlds

I was prompted by a friend's post on facebook about things that go bump in the night, toys that just start playing music, ghost stories, witches and vampires. Why would I do a post on such things on my blog here you ask? Well the eleven years I was in Cambodia I saw my real, fair share of paranormal activity. I heard ghost stories but witnessing was what really convinced me. There is a time when the other world does really try to contact us... Now for those of you who don't believe, fine. That's what works for you. BUT don't judge too harshly until you have lived in a country like Cambodia and seen what goes on. Now that I live back here in the USA you would think. There aren't ghost here... Right? Well it depends on who you are and what you believe. The state of Maine has it's fair share of ghost stories and hauntings. Wiscasset Maine I think is probably one of the most haunted towns in Maine with one street in particular that has four houses that are documented and that doesn't even include the other houses that have documented cases of hauntings . It's not like I go out looking for ghost stories, though I stayed at a haunted B&B last year on Halloween. I just enjoy keeping that avenue open to learn and to possibly witness hauntings, if you may. The Salem witch trials... I was once asked by a pastor when I told him I suffered from migraines. "Do you have anyone who was a witch in your family?" I was trying to figure what he was getting at. Later I learned he thought in his twisted thinking that because I had someone who was involved in the Salem Witch trials possibly brought some of the sin upon me. One of the lead families in the trials was the Putnam family. You had Young 12 year old Ann Putnam Jr who was daughter to Thomas and Ann Sr. They were key figures in the trial pointing fingers. An uncle of the young Ann was Joseph Putnam a defender. he being a defender of the ones accused could have endangered his life but he did what he thought what was right to the risk of himself being accused.I am related to him. My great great Grandmother was Ann Putnam. Her Granddaughter was Mary Anna Putnam Bronson who married George Reisner the great archaeologist. His Giza project is still going today at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Cario. He was my great uncle. I started learning about my very colorful family early in the 1980s when I started getting into genealogy. It seems genealogy and history go hand in hand and finding some of the more colorful history of our wonderful country. Do I think there were witches flying around on brooms in Salem? No ,I think that whole trial was a sad, very sad part of our history that was based on fear. Fear is a very powerful thing. Fear can snowball and if not caught can lead to deaths of the innocent. At the time of the Salem Witch Trials all of Massachusetts was under a theocracy. That means the church ran everything. You couldn't do anything that wasn't under the watchful eye of the church and the church fathers. They had watchers walking past homes peeping and keeping an eye. You had girs (probably mean girls) who may have decided they were pissed at so and so. Who really knows. I do know from reading letters of judges later, after the trail. They regret ever letting things get out of hand. People started pointing fingers and then it got out of hand. Hysteria is a very powerful weapon. Are there witches , were there witches? Yes. I firmly believe but those trials no and I don't think I suffer migraines because of witchcraft in my family. Ghost , we have a ghost at my house. I have not seen her. I have seen her do things. How do I know the ghost is a she? Well I'm pretty sure it's the former owner who died almost a year after I bought my house. That's when she started showing up. It's been like a presence that I have felt. A feeling that someone is near. Also I have been in my basement and all of a sudden, not once but many times my dryer comes flying open and then slams shut. I asked my husband and also people at Mysterious Destinations what the likely hood of that just happening, many times and they said "Nope" Just a week ago things started flying off my bookshelf. I yelled 'Quit it" and she stopped it. That was by far the most mischievous she has ever been. Once my oldest son Brendan brought Pat home to get some things so to sleep over his home he was renting a couple years ago. It was in the winter around midnight ,"The Witching hour".Pat came in,ran up to his room and got his clothes and went back out to the car. Brendan said to Pat. "What did Mom say?" Pat said "Nothing , why?" Brendan, "Cause she was standing looking out the window..." Pat "No she wasn't... she's sleeping" Brendan said "then who was the woman standing in the window if it wasn't Mom... " Last summer I had my two daughters and one of their friends staying so we had a full house. My daughter MaryKate's friend said more then once she felt someone watching her, heard noises when no one was in the house but her and also felt 'her' down in the basement. Do I fear Jan? No. I don't know why she started knocking my books down, maybe she was bored who knows. But I don't fear her. She was glad when i bought the house, even gave me a few things that meant a lot to her. maybe she will never so it again. I kinda hope not. I really like having a ghost. What does all this have to do with the Thin Veil between two worlds? This post was a little bit history which I love and a bit about what we can't explain or explain away. This time of year the veil seems to grow thin, allowing communication between the two worlds or for more hauntings or more activity. Also this time of year makes me think of scary movies or movies about the occult. One that has a favorite actress is "Practical Magic" I'm not so much into real scary movies any more but movies like the one mentioned I enjoy. Some of my favorite paranormal books or series: Anything by JR Ward. If you like vampires, well she is not your daughter's vampire stories. Once read you will be hooked. The Twilight series. Harry Potter. Jenny Crusie's "Maybe This Time" . It's a great ghost and love story. A new favorite author of mine Deborah Harkness. Her first book , 'A Discovery of Witches" and now "Shadow of Night". Both have everything you might want, a good old love story between two souls who aren't suppose to be together, witches, vampires, magic and history. So I will leave you with those thoughts as I listen to Stevie Nicks sing 'Crystal' and smell my soup cook on this cool fall afternoon...

Sunday, October 7, 2012


I woke to what we call ghost pages... It's when your pager for whatever reason opens up and starts to sound like it's going to tone out to a fire call... At the moment it's beautiful, blue skys and the leaves are a wonderful color. My thinking is get some writing done for hubby and then go for a 3 mile run with my son Ian. Then go apple picking... What have I been up to with my book(The Kings of Angkor)? Well it's a balancing game of what to use extra money for when I get my Fire Department Check every quarter. I have invested in some online promotion. Want to do a book signing but to fork out enough money even with a discount and purchase books and promotional material to go along with it... is a small King's Ransom . Also this week I will be finally booking my flight, I have credit with Orbitz. So I am going to see what kind of deal I can get for Dec. 26 or the 27 and fly over on Eva air. I am trying to get a banner add done up with "All About Romance" I want to do a month slot, see how it goes. Yesterday one of my sons said something about their brother's room that will be vacant when my second oldest son goes to Cambodia with his oldest brother in a month's time... I didn't want him to keep thinking he was moving in so I guess I busted his bubble. Told him my plans to turn the one of two rooms into my office/writing room... Well that didn't make him very happy and then son #4 was even more upset because he was planning on taking the loft bedroom so he will no longer have to share a bedroom with the youngest... So for a while I felt really guilty. What to do? How can I make this work and everyone will be happy? It's not going to happen because I will still be working from two places... my hallway desk and my bed. I wake up every morning, make my bed and spread out all my books, notes, etc... Where is that paper or book? At the end of the day I pile it all back up, some on my desk, some on my bedside stands... I have read about a lot of authors who are in the same spot as me. They write where ever they have room. Some are best selling writers. One I can't remember her name but she would write on her laptop as she waited for one of her children to finish his sports practice. I did that a couple weeks ago, but for the most part I participate, I am out there running with him so that doesn't work also I find my best time for writing is mornings. Unless it's a dreary Sunday and it's pouring... then I am writing all day long. So what do I do? I am going with my gut feeling. I am the Mom. I pay the bills. No matter what I do I am at one point or another on their list... so the room is MINE. I am going to take it over whenever that time comes and make it into my work space. A desk you ask? I am building a counter to go the length of the wall that will face out the window. That's the thing. That space has two rooms. When I bought the house back in June of 2007 with my cousin that space was a dirt floor shed/barn. The back room was like a guest room for summer time. Since then we have insulated it more on the floor cause it's all open underneath but the front room we added walls. My cousin Will designed a trapezoid window . When Bob and I got married that was his office but that didn't work. He is now up in the hallway under the loft stairs. My desk, a French, Louis the XVI style is facing out the window. I love windows BUT the desk just isn't comfortable to work at. That was an argument with #3 son. "Why do you need a window? You can have the front room of the barn." Me: "No, I want to have a window that I can see out of, not look up and see out BUT look across..." Oh well ,I am never going to make them entirely happy

Monday, October 1, 2012

Love and other drugs...

The last two days of marathon writing made me think of how when I am writing it's like an itch I can't quite get at. I feel very frustrated. So the only way to get rid of that frustration is... you've got it I write. Yesterday I got twenty pages written. Blame it on the rain or thank god for the rain... For more then one reason but because it rained and I didn't feel compelled to be outside. Today I got three pages done plus some editing. Found after yesterday's writing stint that I had just kept writing and hadn't marked my parts for chapter headings. The only thing I did do as I wrote was correct spelling which drives me crazy if I see the words underlined in red. Writing for me once the characters start taking shape is like a drug. I can't get enough, I need to write and everything takes a back seat. If my door is shut leave me a lone. I get extremely frustrated and yansy if I have to go do something else. I am really not there but off in my own little world that I have created. So for the sake of others and my self I really should get that bunch of writing out of the way. I tend to be flighty when writing so the kids can ask me just about anything and I will probably agree or snap their heads off. But real life also beckons and I have to do wash, food shop, take care of the house and kids. Cook that would be a good idea if we want to eat since I don't have a maid any longer. Life in Cambodia, not Camden Maine. So why did I title my post Love and other drugs? Love of writing, needing to get it done but the more I wrote yesterday the more I wanted to write. Usually the itch ends and I can get on with my daytime routine. Not yesterday. I didn't even want to read. I wanted to write and that's the way it was when I wrote the first book. I had days like that. I found it rewarding and exhausting.

Monday, September 24, 2012


It's a solitary business, writing books. You have hours, days, weeks with non stop writing... hopefully. Then the book is finished and then the editing begins. While writing I am learning the ropes about promotion and e-publishing so I can e-publish the next book in the series plus other books. Promotion, getting your name out there so you have readers ready to read your next book. I am hard at work on # 2. Also working on another book so I can have at least a couple books out next year. Research is a needful thing also when writing. Some days that's all I do and get very little actual writing done. I am talking with my daughter about my trip to Cambodia and then going up to Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat. Another author friend of mine, Kent Davis say he gets more research done when at home in the states. I am sure I do too BUT the whole idea of going to Angkor Wat is walking in the steps of the Kings. I was hoping to go this fall but I think I will wait till one of the New Years, Cambodia has 3. The regular New Year On Jan 1, then Chinese New Year and then Cambodian New Year. So we will see. When I do go I know I will have a lot to write about and to share photos. Till then I use the internet and my books that are now part of my library. So I will close for now and know I am hard at work on the second in the series.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Writing is so solitary, it's a creation that is done in the head of the author, he or she works on their story, typing away, crafting ,molding, erasing or in the case of computers deleting... I write ,I delete, I fashion words and phrases. Some days I get a lot of pages done, other days it's like pulling hen's teeth. I love the days that I have no interruptions and the words flow. I try not to get too crazy if I can't get what I want done. But I have many hats that I wear and writing is just one of them. This morning the sun calls me to go power walking. I look out my window and the intense shades of green, maybe there are fifty... Out there I see tinges of fall colors too that are gently sneaking in there. I know it was cold this morning when I crawled out of bed. As I wrote this morning I listened to Christina Perri and "A Thousand Years" A fitting song for what I am writing. I need music as I write, usually one song plays on my ipod over and over, it helps create a mood, blocks out sounds. So those are my thoughts on writing at the moment. Anyone who reads this have a wonderful Sunday!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Well Good Morning. It's a cloudy morning here in Maine but wait a few minutes and it may change! I found I am on sale through Amazon UK which is thrilling. Also in the Times of India which when I looked on their site saw: Our Heritage: Indiatimes is part of India's largest media and entertainment house, The Times Group. One of the most respected business houses in India, the 168-year-old group is a market driver across all media platforms. The group's brands include: The Times of India - World's largest broadsheet English daily So that is right from the horse's mouth. Since a lot of my back story is Indian based it's very cool that I am listed in one of their papers. Also I saw I was in a couple of Maine papers too so I was pretty excited last night before a Fire Works Detail for the CFD. I have been asked by friends and family if there will be a second book? Yes and a third. I am currently working on the second. I hope to have it done for release by next summer. BUT all good things take time and I want Anna's story to be bigger and better then the first. Summer was a very hard time to write. What with the children home for the summer from school it made my writing time a real creative lesson on time management. This week starting tomorrow the boys really go back to school. They started last Wednesday but the first day was just a half of day. When I can't get writing done I get really frustrated and I become scatter brained and can't sit because all my thoughts are bottled and I feel like I am going to explode. Like another writing friend put. When you can't write it's like having an itch that you can't scratch... that is so true and frustrating to the extreme. So yes, Anna's story will continue. I fell in love with her story and that of Princess Indradevi. The Love story between Indradevi and Jayavarman is older then you may think and that's where India comes in. I had some moments when writing the book that I can only describe as 'Oh Wow' moments because I wrote things about the characters. The modern day counterparts are pure fiction. The story line for their historical conterparts is fiction, my story but there is a lot that is true. I did a great deal of research when writing this book but sometimes I would just write and then research. Kinda Bass Ackwards... but what I found out after writing for a day is the backstory of what I just wrote was true and how in the world did I know what I just wrote because I never read anything on that subject prior. It was times like these that I had goose bumps going up and down my spine. Like any new author who wants to get his or her work out there, she has to learn the ropes of selling his or her work. Your publisher can only do so much. I think like a lot of other authors we tend to be shy and would rather just write. But if we want to sell our work we have to get out there and talk to people. Whether it be at book signings or just at a local ice cream stand. Talking about your book to complete strangers can be hard but you never know who you may be speaking to and it may be the break you were looking for. My days hopefully will settle down to a great writing schedule. Being on the Camden Maine FD gives me the freedom to stay home and write. I also have letters to write to bookstores and libraries. I do have my book in Camden's beautiful library. Some would say ' Oh, your book in a library, that's not encouraging sales...' Yes and no. There was many a time that I couldn't afford a book at that moment, found an author and later bought her books. Like one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Peters. Also I would like to mention ,in The Kings of Angkor Anna's uncle that is mentioned and her last name... That was my mother's family's name a couple generations back. The uncle who was an archeologist... that was mine. If you haven't read the book and don't know the answer to those two references , well you will have to read the book :-) So I will leave you. There is back information on research that I have done for the book and though it may seem dry it helps paint a bigger picture of my story and Anna's story.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's been a long time since my last post. I have just been going at a whirlwind speed. I am either writing, editing, going on fire calls or getting the kids from point A to point B. Tomorrow school starts again. I can't tell you how happy I will be or what that will do for my writing life. I will have to get back to my writing and running/rowing schedule. Sales have been good but like any independent author I have to get out there and sell myself. SOoooo I have more letters to write, calls to make to bookstores and libraries. As for the second book in the series I am working on that and another project. I will keep you all posted how that is going as I write. Also now that it is getting closer to Autumn I am thinking about my travel plans to Cambodia. I want to walk in the steps of the kings though I am sure most of the time they were carried. I also want to see what Indradevi saw. Her story along with Jayavarman's will continue in the next book and the one after that. I will leave you with a shot of Angkor Wat.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sorry it's been so long since I have been on here but finished with classes, working on my next book in The Kings of Angkor series and on another book, title yet to be decided. It also takes place in Cambodia but in the 1920s. My first book The Kings of Angkor:Army of a Thousand Elephants is now avail from my publisher Dorrance. Here is the link. It will be also avail with Amazon and select book stores soon.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Living the life of an author...

How does an author live? In a few short weeks I will be a published author. How does an author spend his or her time? Well I'm not sure how a NY Times best selling author lives, though our small mid-coast area of Camden/Rockport can boast of 3 NY Times bestselling authors, who either live here part-time or year round. Authors such as Tess Gerritsen, author of the Rizzoli & Isles series, Richard Russo,a 2002 Pulitzer Prize winner and David McCullough also another winner of The Pulitzer Prize, author of works like "John Adams and 1776". There is also another author who writes mysteries, sells real estate, who just launched her third book. I was fortunate enough to go to her launch party. So to live in this beautiful area which most people know one another, where you see these authors in your local coffee shop or post office. Where in the summer any number of movie stars may be spotted or around Thanksgiving and Christmas one movie star will come home to one of the islands and he will walk on our streets in disguise until the shops keepers/owners spot him. Then they put up the 'closed sign'. Then after the customers clear he can go in and shop and catch up with the local gossip. Now this still doesn't answer how does an author spend his or her time. What are your days like? How do you write? How much time do you spend writing, research, if the book you are working on requires research? Well for me it's not a life or days spent at leisure. I don't have people answering the phone for me. No one does my shopping like they did when I lived in Cambodia. There I did have a maid and cook. Here I am everything... Wife, mother, taxi driver, writer, researcher, Fire Fighter who is finishing up with her Academy for Fire Fighter 1 & 2 this next week. My days start at 5am. I like to get up, have tea and wake up before the boys are up. 6am get the darlings up and ready for school. 7am(ish) start Mom's taxi runs to various schools. 7:30 get back to get breakfast for my youngest and get him on the bus by 8am. Then the day is mine... I divide that time with running/power walking most days so I have to get my butt moving so I can get that done and get back to do cleaning and finish chores then write or if it's now... study. My kids for the last four months have asked me "what are you doing Mom?" My answer for the last four months has been "Study or go to drills or go practice skills or class." I know my youngest two will be glad when this is over... When I am writing it's hard for me to do anything else. I live in that world of my characters , the one I have created. While I have been consumed with classes I have had very little time to write and it has driven me crazy. The only thing I could tell my self , something a dear old friend has told me " This too shall pass..." So I count down the days now till I will finish and then I can organize myself and get back to what I love to do... writing. I don't know about other writers but I find it's hard to talk about what I am writing about. Though I think if one wants to get their books out there and known he or she has to get out there, out of their shell and interact with people and the real world. I find once I start talking about The Kings of Angkor: Army of a Thousand Elephants I can get going and maybe have a hard time shutting up... I really need to get out more... Last night at a Rotary Progressive dinner I was able to talk to quite a few about my book. One was a wife of a world renown diamond designer. My husband who is the member of Rotary has said they want me to give a talk after the book comes out. I said "Fine, wait till I have come back from Cambodia and Angkor Wat." Something I will be doing in June. Then will come the summer and the kids wanting to spend the day swimming at the lake or us working on our sloop or taking our other boat out on the lake. So Summer presents it's challenges for a writer. You have to be stricter with your self, get a time that you know will work... like in the dead of the night or very early in the morning. Just to have that time, anytime will be lovely...

Friday, March 23, 2012

THe Kings of Angkor

I have my manuscript back for the very final time then it will go to the printer for it's June publishing date! To say I am excited doesn't even cover it.
Since I am so limited on time I am sharing a bit of news about cambodia and the fight to get back antiquities that found there way out of Cambodia and in the hands of other people or countries.
Have a great day!

Angkor Wat Apsara & Devata: Khmer Women in Divine Context
Decoding the World's Greatest Archaeological Mystery: Who were the ancient Khmer women depicted on the Cambodian temple of Angkor Wat?

Devata Temples
Site Map
The List
Woman’s History

Book News & Reviews
Cambodian dance
Children of Angkor
Devata & Apsara Photos
Devata Research
Khmer History
People & Profiles
Woman's History
The Real Secret of Cambodia’s Mythic Warrior: Archaeological Insight
By Kent Davis

…like a good Indiana Jones movie, the real story of this lost treasure began with a flash of archaeological insight in a remote Asian jungle half a world away….

Koh Ker, Cambodia – Protests from the Kingdom of Cambodia recently halted the multi-million dollar Sotheby’s sale of an ancient stone statue with the support of the United States government. When the Cambodians sought help bringing the thousand-year-old Khmer statue back to their country the New York Times ran a detailed article entitled “Mythic Warrior Is Captive in Global Art Conflict.”

10th century Cambodian sculpture previously scheduled for a multi-million dollar Sotheby’s sale.
Their investigation reveals that the legal and moral issues surrounding the ownership and sale of ancient art are quite complex. In this case, one generous art collector may actually provide a positive solution. But like a good Indiana Jones movie, the real story of this lost treasure began with a flash of archaeological insight in a remote Asian jungle half a world away.

Mystery of the Missing Men of Koh Ker

One thousand years ago, the Khmer Empire ruled most of what is now Southeast Asia from its capital in Angkor. During their heyday, the architecturally and artistically sophisticated Khmer people created some of humanity’s most extraordinary stone temples and statues. Apart from a few stone inscriptions, however, no written records of the civilization survived. Out of necessity, archaeologists have had no alternative but to piece the story of the Khmer people together, clue by clue and stone by stone.

Rising above 30 meters in height, Koh Ker’s central temple-mountain of Prasat Thom was built 100 years before Angkor Wat. Photo: Khmersearch, Panoramio.
Early in the 10th century (for reasons that are still unclear), King Jayavarman IV and his son Harsavarman II relocated the empire’s capital from Angkor to an isolated plateau 100 km to the northeast. There they built the city of Koh Ker, a huge new complex of temples and shrines, where they established their throne for a brief 16 year period (928-944 AD). Like all great Khmer cities, Koh Ker was ultimately abandoned and swallowed up by the jungle. The rediscovery of the Khmer civilization by Westerners didn’t begin until French explorers arrived in the second half of the 19th century.

In 2007, stone conservator Simon Warrack was working with the German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP), a scientific organization that had been doing critical restoration on Angkor Wat temple for more than a decade. In May, Warrack took a side trip to the Koh Ker site (Google Map link) to consider future conservation needs there.

At Koh Ker, Warrack noticed two distinctive pedestal platforms in the first enclosure of Prasat Chen. There, by the west gopura (an entry structure), he saw the feet where two statues had clearly been broken off. But the gods that once stood there were nowhere to be found. The mystery sparked his imagination.

The two Koh Ker pedestals as Warrack found them at Prasat Chen in May 2007. The pedestal circled in red shows a fabric section still attached in the center.
Virtually Connecting Ancient Dots…and Stones

From my own research cataloging the devata of Angkor I can attest that field work is generally hot, uncomfortable and distracting. Almost all of my discoveries happen at my desk in Florida examining photos taken weeks or years before at remote locations. Warrack continued his search in similar fashion.

The Norton Simon dvarapala featured in “Adoration and Glory”, p. 149.
He pondered the distinctive bases and began searching for photos in books and research archives. Finally, he found a possible solution. In “Adoration and Glory – The Golden Age of Khmer Art” by Emma Bunker and Douglas Latchford one image stood out. It showed a figure identified as a dvarapala (guardian) at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena California. That statue was missing its feet, but many are. The key to solving this puzzle was the unique tail at the bottom of its clothing element. After scanning images and digitally combining them Warrack confirmed the close match between the two fragments.

Warrack’s 2007 digital superimposition of the base and body of the Koh Ker statue.
Warrack immediately wrote a short paper to seek opinions from others in the field of Khmer studies. He forwarded copies to friends and associates as well as to key authorities including the APSARA Authority, which manages the Angkor region’s heritage assets; the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in Phnom Penh; and the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), a French organization dedicated to Asian studies that has been active in conservation efforts at Angkor since 1907. I met Simon in 2007 shortly after his find and the photos above come from the original article he shared with me.

Everyone who saw his image realized the importance of this observation. Determining the original location of displaced objects can be a huge help in interpreting their meaning and significance within the context of an ancient civilization. The record shows that the Norton Simon piece was acquired legitimately and is on public display for educational, artistic and cultural appreciation. But not all art ends up this way. Much of it disappears into private collections, out of view.

Such was the case of the complimentary statue that stood face to face with this one more than a thousand years ago at the Khmer capital of Koh Ker.

Sotheby's twin Khmer warrior. Note the unbroken base of the fabric tail.
The Long Lost Twin Reappears

In the summer of 2010, a “noble European lady” contacted Sotheby’s to discuss the sale of a “spectacular tenth-century Cambodian sculpture, 160 centimeters in height and exceptionally well carved.” Word got out quickly to the worlds of art and archaeology. When pictures began to circulate it was instantaneously clear that this was the long-lost companion to the statue Warrack had connected to the Norton Simon Museum three years earlier.

Meanwhile, in New York, the matching sculpture was estimated to sell for millions of dollars. According to the owner’s records, she legally acquired the piece in 1975 from the now-defunct London art dealer Spink & Son. The Norton Simon Museum also acquired their piece that year. Some evidence suggests that both statues left Cambodia in the late 1960s, but exactly when and how that happened, and who arranged it, is unknown.

Paraphrasing Sotheby’s Senior Vice President Jane A. Levine, the New York Times article stated “Ms. Levine countered that the statue could have been removed any time in its thousand-year history, and said the word ‘stolen’ was often ‘used loosely.’ ” Meanwhile, Christie’s auction house acquired Spinks in 1993 and claims that the 1975 records of the statue’s origin are “no longer available.”

Regardless of the lack of facts, the ownership of both statues seems quite legal under international laws. Which brings us to a question at the heart of this matter.

Who Should Own Historical Art?

An idealistic answer is “humanity” but even this dream can have unexpected consequences as we’ll discover below. My personal goal would be for historical assets to be accessible to everyone who wants to respect them, preserve them, appreciate them and learn from them. But this philosophy wouldn’t get me through the front door at most of the world’s public institutions holding these assets (let alone to private collections).

Most of us are fortunate enough to live in a free society. We can buy, sell and own personal property within the law. The laws protecting heritage assets have evolved considerably over the past few decades, and they continue to do so. But the fact remains that countless artifacts were legally acquired by collectors (“noble ladies” included) as well as public museums since the beginning of time. Isn’t it their right to display, use and sell their property as they see fit?

Let’s consider some difficult questions raised by recent news:

The taller Buddha of Bamiyan before and after destruction. Photo: Wikipedia.
1. Can a government or private entity decide to demolish old structures? This happens every day in every city around the world. Sometimes historical societies rally to save a site. Sometimes they can’t, as seen in the shocking annihilation of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. Was that government right? Were those people right? And who are you to judge? Do you live there?

In Sarasota Florida some local groups rallied to have this mural erased from a shop.
2. Can a government or private entity destroy something offensive or blasphemous to their values or religion? How far does freedom of expression go? This Yale article discusses the destruction of Buddha images in the Maldives. But it also mentions things like Henry VIII’s systematic destruction of all the monasteries in England, Wales and Ireland. Near my home in Sarasota Florida a debate has run for months about erasing a mural that may promote gangs. Acts of artistic control and destruction happen all the time.

Sunken treasure found by Odyssey Marine 1700 feet deep in the Atlantic Ociean.
3. Can a private group use its own funds to recover or preserve historical objects that were clearly abandoned by the original owners hundreds or even thousands of years earlier? In other words, does everything actually belong to some hypothetical “rightful owner”? And who owned these things before them? Odyssey Marine Exploration in Tampa Florida just got a harsh lesson in how arbitrarily this question can be answered. Odyssey spent years working to locate and salvage a ship in international waters off the coast of Portugal. It lay, unknown and untouched for two centuries in 1700 feet of water. US courts just ruled against Odyssey and returned all the artifacts to Spain.

Ironically, that silver and gold was mined in Peru by peasants working under slave-like conditions. Peru, of course, came under Spanish control in the 16th century when conquistadors brutally subjugated the Inca civilization in their quest for territory, power and treasure. But to the US courts, 200 years of ownership was enough to confiscate assets for an “original” owner…but not 400 years. Peru’s claim to the artifacts was ignored.

On the other side of the gold coin, salvage operations generally destroy much of the archaeological evidence that exists on a wreck site. I took an archaeological research diver workshop at a Florida galleon site, and I’ve also had the privilege of discussing this topic with the father of underwater archaeology, George Bass. I am quite opposed to the wholesale destruction of history to recover precious metals on land or at sea.

But in this case, Odyssey Marine consistently gathers a lot of archaeological data from their sites. And is it reasonable to ask when and how carefully archaeologists would be excavating this particular site more than half a kilometer deep? It seems we can all learn much from Odyssey’s digital photos, detailed site maps and the thousands of objects recovered. More than we would have known if the site was never found. Now the responsibility falls to Spain to educate and inspire us with their recovered objects. The world watches.

The “Angel of Beng Mealea” - March 5, 2006 and February 12, 2007.
4. Do poor people have the right to take abandoned objects from public places just to survive? I wrote about my own painful experience with this at Beng Mealea in this article “Death of an Angel.”

There are countless examples. There will be countless more. Each situation is different. Right and wrong are not always clear. And certainly never appear the same to opposing parties in a disagreement.

Back in 2008 I bought a used car legally. But what if the original owner (or the factory, or the country where it was built) tried to reclaim it because “I parked it too long” or “I wasn’t taking care of it” or “they want to study it” or “it belongs in the original place”? I can’t say I’d be too happy.

But there are solutions to these issues…as there are to most human conflicts: communication, empathy and diplomacy. Fortunately, a combination of these factors may lead to a resolution to the quandary of the Sotheby’s statue sale.

Collectors Who Share

Cultural sensitivity about who historical objects should belong to is a fairly new concept. As noted above people have the right to own private property. This has been going on for a long time. Humans are an acquisitive species by nature.

It’s worth noting that some of the most successful “acquirers” (Rockefeller, Carnegie, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates come to mind) have also proven themselves as some of our most generous givers. And some art collectors have proven themselves in this way, too. After a lifetime of actively hunting, obsessively gathering and painstakingly preserving the rare objects they crave…many end up donating their collections to public institutions.

In the world of Khmer art, Douglas Latchford, co-author of “Adoration and Glory” with art historian Emmy Bunker, is one example. He began collecting Khmer artifacts 56 years ago (1956). Over the years he and his friends have shared financial gifts with the National Museum of Cambodia. More significantly, he is the museum’s biggest contributor of artifacts (read more about Douglas Latchford on KI-Media).

Now another collector may assist with a solution to the thorny situation of the Koh Ker statue at Sotheby’s.

Dr. István Zelnik, founder of the Gold Museum in Budapest, Hungary.
During the 1970s, Dr. István Zelnik served as a Hungarian diplomat in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Like many passionate collectors he invested his money in rare books, antiques and works of art. Motivated by a love of art and curiosity about the objects he found, he became an increasingly sought after consulting expert for museums and archaeologists around the world. In 2011 his dreams culminated with his greatest achievement: founding the Zelnik István Southeast Asian Gold Museum in Budapest Hungary.

In a statement to the New York Times Dr. Zelnik expressed the possibility that he may purchase the statue for donation to the people of Cambodia. A generous, diplomatic and expedient solution in our complex world. The owner would be compensated for her private property, huge amounts of time and money would not be wasted on legal litigation, and the people who respect and admire the art of the Khmer people could once again see this expression of creativity in the land where it was born.

I wish him success and encourage him along with Mr. Latchford and other collectors to continue sharing the objects of their passion with the world.

The two mythic Cambodian warriors as they one faced each other at Koh Ker. Below, Simon Warrack asks if they can one day be reunited?
Could Two Ancient Brothers Meet Again?

To conclude this article I contacted Simon Warrack to ask his current ideas about the ownership of historic art. Here’s what he had to say:

“The concept of “ownership” may be the wrong place to start when considering important objects. It is the value and significance of an object that should be thought of first, rather than who it belongs to.

”The questions should really be about the object itself, not who it belongs to. Where is the object best valued? Where is it best appreciated? Where is it best understood? Where is it best conserved?

“Who an object belongs to should be secondary. As one of my colleagues observed ‘Objects are not important because they are in museums. They are in museums because they are important.’ The object itself is the important factor, not the museum that possesses it.

“After finding the empty pedestals seven years ago actually seeing both Koh Ker statues is remarkable. The possibility now exists that, one day, they may be reunited.

“Today, I called HE Hab Touch to ask his opinion on this matter. He is optimistic but noted that at this early stage no decisions or agreements are in place. However, Cambodia is ready and there are at least two suitable, secure locations where the pieces could be located for public appreciation. In the National Museum, of course, but plans are also being made for a museum at Preah Vihear, the same province where Koh Ker is located. There, the museum will become a gateway to the World Heritage Site and these figures could, once again, provide a wonderful center piece to welcome visitors from around the world.”

Simon closed by mentioning a concept from the book, Who Owns Antiquity by James Cuno. Cuno observes that national museums in wealthy nations host “encyclopedic” collections of objects from around the world, while national museums in less wealthy countries host indigenous local art relating to their own history.

He suggests that the global exchange of art would be a good direction to head in. Just as it is good for a child in Pasadena to experience the art of Cambodia, wouldn’t it also be wonderful for a child of Cambodia to see pieces of American history? Or the creations of Greece, Rome, Egypt, Mexico, etc.?

With communication, empathy and diplomacy we can all grow and learn.


About Simon Warrack

“The Ancient Life” documentary host Brit Eaton interviewing Warrack at Angkor Wat.
Stone conservator Simon Warrack worked on structures throughout Europe including Venice’s Ducal Palace, Rome’s Trevi Fountain and Forum of Trajan, and the Cathedral of Bourges in France.

In 1993 he turned his talents to Asia working to conserve Cambodia’s Temple of Preah Ko. In 1995, he began more than a decade of work with the German Apsara Conservation Project preserving critical sections of the 12th century temple of Angkor Wat. Warrack has also helped establish several stone conservation training programs, including a workshop for students at Preah Vihear.


Adoration and Glory: The Golden Age of Khmer Art

A photographic tribute to rare Khmer art objects from public and private collections around the world. The contents were curated by Douglas Latchford and Emma Bunker and each piece includes a detailed analysis.

Koh Ker Research by Chanratana Chen, Phd.

Mr. Chen has conducted a major study about the history, art and archaeology of Koh Ker and the reign of Jayavarman IV. The title above links to his related lecture at the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) in Phnom Penh on February 4, 2012. He also founded Kerdomnel Khmer, a Khmer studies research magazine and website with multi-lingual content.

Koh Ker information on Angkor Guide (with map)

Heritage Watch International

Heritage Watch is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Southeast Asia’s cultural heritage.

Archaeology for Travelers

Promoting responsible tourism with news about archaeological discoveries and conversation efforts around the world.
More From

Zhou Daguan-A Record of Cambodia-Siam Society Review by Milton Osborne
Cambodia Daily Review: Angkor – A Glimpse of a Bygone Era
Rice Goddesses of Indonesia, Cambodia and Thailand Recommends

Engineering images bring life to submerged city (ArchaeoinAction)
Greece: Top 10 archaeological discoveries of 2011 (ArchaeoinAction)
Ask To Recommend Your Posts
Related posts:

Bulldozers Destroy Priceless Archaeological Site in Cambodia A 2500 year old archaeological site was unexpectedly destroyed in...
Cambodia’s National Museum Marks 90th Anniversary Museum founder’s daughter celebrates her father’s love for Cambodia Phnom...
Treasures of Khmer Culture-The National Museum of Cambodia By Darryl Collins (First published in 2005, this article...
Posted in Khmer History, People & Profiles.
Tagged with Cambodian History, Khmer History, Khmer temple, Koh Ker, National Museum of Cambodia.
By admin March 1, 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Book

While I work on The Kings of Angkor again. It seems I am forever working on it. Final page proofs keep coming back and with the publication date of June of this year coming up quickly things need to be right.
I am adding a link to a book I have that was done one hundred years ago. It is of sketches that are of the Royal Dancers, the modern counterparts of the Apsaras who grace the walls of Angkor Wat.
Now I may have said this in the past but my take on the reasons why there are so many bas reliefs of these women is I think they were the keepers of the temples. I think they served many roles there at Angkor Wat. Be it dancer, protectors (don't laugh) women in the military is nothing new. China had women in an Elite force who guarded the King. Who would suspect beautiful women who danced around the palace? They were probably also lovers and concubines to the Kings and others in that circle. We will never know for certain but one thing is for certain they were important enough to grace the walls of the largest religious structure ever to be built. If you look at Angkor Wat proper that means all the temples that include Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom from NASA photos from space you can easily fit NYC inside Angkor Wat and it's surrounding temple complex.
If you can't just click and get to the link, copy and paste. I am having trouble adding to my blog, but they are well worth the look.
Now back to writing, editing and studying...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

King Norodom Sihanouk

Below I have attached an article about the former King who is now known as the King Father. When reading my book you may wonder why at times he was at one point the King and another a prince. In reading the article you will see why. Also please watch the little video at the side. It is a prime example of Cambodian Classical Dance.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Kings of Angkor:The Army of a Thousand Elephants

Well it's been a long time since I have written a post here. Not that I have been doing nothing... on the contrary I have been either editing or working on another book(an older one written before The Kings of Angkor. Another one that is dear to me, but that's another story.
No, I haven't just been sitting around. I have decided that the second book in the series will be torn apart and started again. I could see the way I wanted it to start and I wasn't liking the way it was coming along... So I am attacking and tearing apart the 2nd book...
On top of all this I am back in school. I am going for my Fire Fighters 1&2. I had joined the Camden FD back at the end of September. I went to all the trainings even before I was official which came the beginning of Dec. Just in time for the monthly meeting, which was a supper meeting with Camden's Town Manager. Where she welcomed me onto the CFD personally. I can tell you that was a happy day. I will also tell you just because I am a woman doesn't make it easier for me. If anything I feel I have to work harder and now with these classes I am going way beyond anything I have ever thought I would do and it's only the beginning.
Just to get into the academy I had to pass a fitness test. Which for me shouldn't be hard even though I am 50. BUT I had to do it in a certain amount of time... So me who power walks anyway , doing everything had to be faster. Plus I had to do sit-ups and push-ups... Now I have never been able to do push-ups... and I was given the choice to do them regular or bent knee. I thought "sure I will do them bent knee" I only had about a week to get myself up to snuff. I ran every day. Not power walk but run and I was running hard to get my pace and beat my time every day. The chief was impressed because sometimes our work out times would overlap. I decided to move my test day up to the Monday right after Christmas, two days earlier. I figured I have been just about making my time and that's all I had to do was make it. Why torture myself with two more days and not sleeping due to stressing over it... So that Monday I went in. I was bound to get this done and pass. It wasn't an option of failing... At one point though I looked at my distance and the time I had left and I was like "I'm not gonna do it..." Well that just gave me that extra kick. when I was near the finish line I yelled for the Assistant Chief who was timing me and just kicked it into over drive and sprinted the last bit. He yelled at me to stop and said I had done it. I had run further then I had to but didn't even care about my time. All I cared was I had finished it! I told him "give me twenty and I will do the rest. I ended up doing my sit-ups in less then half the time. He said he should have had me do what the 20 year olds were doing. Then came the push-ups... Lol I tried the bent knee and failed...I just couldn't do it. So the good thing about the push-ups. I only had to do 2 and I had as much time as I wanted. I did 3. I am now up to 5 but I only do those once a week. I am running still 6 days a week. I give myself one day off. The first time the chief saw me still running and working out. He came in and was standing next to me while I ran on the tread mill. I pulled my ear bud out and looked at him while I ran and he smiles and says "What are you doing?" I looked at him and said "And what does it look like I am doing? I am running." He smiles and says "BUT you don't have to now you passed and did well." I just shook my head and said "But I have to stay in shape cause it's only going to help me to keep up." He just shook his head and smiled.
Last night at the beginning of class while we were don(ing) our gear he, the Chief says "I am going to be adding work to your lessons on Wednesdays..." I must have been a sight in my gear and putting on my face mask . I stopped and just stared at him open mouthed at him with a look like 'you can't be freaking serious' cause he had added stuff to my course load already that I worked on all yesterday while I was in bed sick. I worked on two FEMA classes. I was still not feeling great. Well he smiles and laughs and says "but I won't tonight because I am upsetting Mary... I can tell by the look on her face... So out of courtesy to her, you guys won't have extra work tonight." I took off my face mask and said "Thank you!" Cause I would have been so over loaded at that point.
So if nothing eles going through the academy is making me realize every minute counts and there is no time for wasting. Any free time I have is used for writing and or studying. When I run I work on plots and scenes.
As my Mom would say "there is no rest for the wicked..."
A P.S. here
It's the 25th of Jan. We are into chapter 12 already, Ladders. Monday at training we went over the Ladder Truck . I was at the controls. To say the classes are hard is well an understatement. Then again there are days I feel like it's easy and then days when it's like I just want to bury my head somewhere. Thank goodness I have a good class and even though the Chief spoke to us on Friday of last week, he thought we didn't interact enough together. He doesn't see us in class because he generally leaves. BUT when we were putting on our gear(don) , one of my classmates always gets his on first in about 29-34 second range. That is getting your night hitch pants on, that includes your boots, then your protective hood, then your turnout coat. Have it all closed up and then your helmet and then your gloves. Well I come in right behind him. My best time has been 34 seconds. When you are complete you slap your gloves together. Then this classmate and and I smile at each other. This time though I saw a gap in his suit which would mean a instant flunk in that part of the end test or if on the fire ground not safe. So I ran over and fixed him quick and the chief smiled at me. He then after everyone got their gear on said "That's what I want to see..."
We really do interact and actually joke around. Ie are just so intent with what we are learning we don't do much at least while he is around.
So with all the studying I make sure in the morning, early I write or edit. Going back to school makes me even more disciplined then I was before.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Gracefully Bowing Out…

Gracefully Bowing Out…
Sometimes you are just so busy. You have the kids, your job, classes, your writing schedule and then someone asks you to help... you have been there, I have been there and you know that one more thing is just going to sap your energy... or like the straw on the camel's back... What do you do?
Be honest, tell that person, your friend you just don't have the time, the energy, you are booked, maxed out. If they are a true friend they will understand. If they don't understand they don't have your best interest at heart. You have to be able to say no once in a while and you will be better for it in the long run. I call it spreading myself too thin and I have done and do it all the time. Recognize the signs and let go and say no.