Bunong Story Telling: Histories of Taboo Places in Pou Loung Village


Mr. Khleuy Pyang, the Teller of Taboo Places in Pou Loung Village

My name is Khleuy Pyang, I am a 70 year old Bunong man. I live with my wife in Pou Radet group, in Pou Loung village, which is located in Romanna commune, Senmonorom town, in Mondulkiri. We don’t have any children or grandchildren with us. I am not originally from this village. I was born in Pou Ramet village which borders the Memong commune and along the master of O Te. During the Pol Pot regime my family and other villagers were evacuated to Koh Nhek district, but I don’t remember which year we were sent away or how long we lived there.

After the Pol Pot regime collapsed, I married my wife and move to this group in this village. I have been living here since before the Mondulkiri province was formed. At the beginning, this province was located at the border of master of O Te in the proximity of Dak Dam. Then it moved to Senmonorom and it has been the provincial capital up until now.

I know about the history of these taboo areas from my parents and grandparents; they always told me about them when I was young. After that, I have seen my relatives and other villagers celebrate different ceremonies and pray frequently on these taboo sites.

Pou Loung village is approximately 10 km away from the buffalo roundabout in the town of Senmonrom in Mondulkiri province, which you can reach by travelling along the national road number 76. The Pou Radet group is much older than the Mondulkiri province, and was originally called Pou Radet village before the province was established. After the Mondulkiri province was formed, the Pou Radet village was integrated with the Pou Loung village and the village has been named Pou Loung village since that time.

There are some taboo areas in Pou Loung village such as Tou Rapa, Yok Radang, O Malen and some waterfalls as well. Within Pou Loung village there are two groups – Pou Radet and Pou Loung. Both of the groups have their own different taboo places for organizing their traditional ceremonies. For instance, Tou Rapa and Yok Radang are the taboo places for the Pou Radet group and O Malen is the taboo place of the Pou Loung group because this group is closer to the provincial town than the Pou Radet group.

The following are the histories of Pou Radet and Pou Long groups and taboo places of each group:

Pou Radet is the name of the forest and rivers in this area. There isn’t a definite meaning for this name because the elders have never told us clearly about its meaning.

Tou Rapa is a Bunong name which means head of O Chba. Tou Rapa is the name of a river. Villagers have dug a well there for use by all. It is considered as a taboo site because it is the head of the river and it is an area which is a source of water and it is a type of taboo of Water Nak Ta. We believe that it is the area of a spirit so we always celebrate ceremonies here whenever we have ceremonies of rice and other ceremonies, etc., as it is our tradition and culture. If we don’t, those spirits will cause villagers to become sick. Although we have never seen real lords or spirits with our own eyes, we still believe in and are respectful to the religions, traditions and culture of our ancestors.


Tou Rapa, the head of O Chba

Yok Radang is the area for celebrating the traditional ceremonies of the Pou Radet group. This area is located between the Pou Radet and the Pou Loung group and as well as being bordered by the Tou Rapa. My relatives and villagers celebrate ceremonies for spirits and happy New Year on that mountain; they built a Nak Ta cottage for these celebrations there. Animals which are offered in the ceremonies are dependent on our ability; it can be chickens or pigs. For example, last year we offered pigs for our ceremony and this year we will sacrifice chickens, but next year we will provide pigs for the ceremony.


Yok Radang

Pou Long is a name of a village. It is not a name of a person or tree but I don’t know what its meaning is. O Malen is the taboo site of Pou Loung group where villagers there respect and celebrate their ceremonies.

Furthermore, there are five waterfalls located in the proximity of Pou Loung village – Leng Khai, Leng Toeun, Leng To, Leng Poum Tall and Leng Nahaong. These five waterfalls are located along O Te. Some of these waterfalls are also tabooed because they can make children who like swimming there become sick. In addition to this, farming near these taboo waterfall areas is tabooed, however it is safe to farm 150-200m distance from those areas. However, there are still many people who come to visit these waterfalls.

In the past time, I told many stories but now I can’t because I am getting older and my memory is not as good as it was before. I have difficulty telling the story.


Spiritual place on the Yok Radang where the Bunong people celebrate their traditional ceremony

Click here to see our Eng-Khmer story telling poster

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