A Man’s Quest to Repair Broken Buddha Statues

As of Nov; 29, Sok had repaired 1,010 Buddha statues, and there are at least as many to come. Photo: Social Media

PHNOM PENH – It’s been more than a year since Sok started to collect and repair Buddha statues from pagodas, with no wish other than merit. 

As of Nov, 29, Sok had repaired 1,010 Buddha statues, and there are at least as many to come. 

“People kneel and bow down new statues. But broken ones don’t get much attention anymore. They are kept under trees, or near a stupa or a crematorium. Does it look nice?” he asked.

Sok said some people think repairing broken statues could bring them bad luck. Some even ask fortune tellers whether they should repair the statue before letting Sok fix it.

He said that he’s using his cash to complete the fixings and has his own team to help him in the repair process.

“I don’t want anything from what I do except from the satisfaction of doing a good deed,” he said.

He said some pagodas are reluctant to let him repair their statues as they fear he will then try to sell them back to them.

Sok only repairs small statues made of concrete, up to five kilograms. He also stays away from ancient artifacts, which can be more technical to fix. 

He repairs the statues depending on how badly they are broken and puts back together the missing parts: If only the body is left, he would make a new head and new arms and reattach them to the existing parts. If only the head is left, he then creates a new body instead.

The Buddha statues that had been repaired were sent to pagodas that wanted them. He said that he had sent statues to all provinces except Battambang. 

Sok called on monks, pagodas and Buddhists to take care of broken Buddha statues, not throw them away or leave them in a disrespectful state, pleading to repair them properly.

He said that the essence of the pagoda is the statue that represents the Buddha. 

Only by repairing the statues, Sok also helped replant almost 2,000 banyan trees.

“When I bring a Buddha statue to a pagoda, I plant a banyan tree there too,” he said. 


Originally written in Khmer for ThmeyThmey, this article was translated by Nhor Sokhoeurn for Cambodianess.

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