Last update: December 5, 2023
There are many variations on the use of bells: cattle and horse bell necklaces, children's and women's anklets, belts and crocodile banners.
The colorful tong krapeu ទង់ក្រពើ "crocodile banners", also called tong rolok ទង់រលក "flood banners", flourish in Buddhist monasteries, hanging from the tall masts marking the entrance to the vihear or in other places. There are also white banners reserved for funeral rites. These are called tong krapeu, but the more appropriate term is tong pralung ទង់ព្រលឹង, since they represent the soul (pralung ព្រលឹង), or rather souls, since according to most Khmer traditions, there are 19 pralung.
These banners are both human-shaped, with two legs, and crocodile-shaped. Éveline Porée-Maspero reports, in her Étude des rites agraires des Cambodgiens, that the Khmers themselves are symbolic crocodiles.
Sometimes, but not systematically, bells and mirrors are attached to the feet of tong krapeu.
Several Buddhist legends speak of the origin of crocodile banners.
Other legends are available in the reference work.
* According to Éveline Porée-Maspero, Étude des rites agraires des Cambodgiens, Tome I p.103.
Bells and mirrors attached to the feet of the banners ward off evil spirits. The wind makes the banners dance and the bells shake. The term tong rolok ទង់រលក, literally "banner-waves", translates the movement of the wave propagating on the surface of the ocean.