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Cambodia & Photography: A glimpse of the Kingdom's ancient cultures

The first part of a series on minorities with the Chorng Koh Kong, near the Areng valley, photographed by Charlotte Pert.

Men Has, 82, and Doung Nhech, 78, from two separate villages in Chorng, are husband and wife. They fell in love and married after the death of their two previous partners
Men Has, 82, and Doung Nhech, 78, from two separate villages in Chorng, are husband and wife. They fell in love and married after the death of their two previous partners

The Chorng ethnic minority is one of the groups that fall under the general identity of the Khmer Daeum - literally "original Khmers". Evidence of their presence in Cambodia dates back to the 13th century.

This couple say they have had no marital problems since they got married, because they love each other
This couple say they have had no marital problems since they got married, because they love each other

According to folklore, these people fled the troubled neighbouring lowlands to trade in forest resources. Today, some 300 families live in three communes in the Thmor Baing district of Koh Kong province, near the Areng valley.

Ben Savee, 42, has six children. In 2014, her husband took part in demonstrations against the dam project
Ben Savee, 42, has six children. In 2014, her husband took part in demonstrations against the dam project

In 2014, Chorng representatives took part in a campaign to prevent the construction of a large hydroelectric dam, the reservoir of which was to affect their ancestral lands.

The Chorng generally wear their traditional black clothes on special occasions
The Chorng generally wear their traditional black clothes on special occasions

Their daily lives depend on the forest, where they harvest natural resources such as rattan, wood, fruit and vegetables, and where they believe the spirits reside.

Few speakers of the Chorng language remain
Few speakers of the Chorng language remain

When they are in the forest, the villagers speak the Chorng dialect, which dates back to ancient times, because they believe that speaking Khmer would anger the spirits.

A series of ancient burial jars discovered in the Cardamom Mountains has led researchers to examine the history of the Chorng
A series of ancient burial jars discovered in the Cardamom Mountains has led researchers to examine the history of the Chorng
A family gathers in front of their home. A Koi, aged 69, second on the right, is grandfather to five children
A family gathers in front of their home. A Koi, aged 69, second on the right, is grandfather to five children

Charlotte Pert with our partner The Phnom Penh Post

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