"It was a cloudy day when I ran into a strange, beautiful woman in the countryside of Cambodia. Everyone referred to her as Ahp. No one seemed to know where she came from. Ever since she appeared, more and more mysterious things seem to be happening.”
Ahp is a spiritual female character popular in Cambodian folklore and imagination. With the character of Ahp as a protagonist, this work explores the relationship between themes of horror and women, with particular relevance to Cambodia.
In Cambodia, horror is woven into the country. The Khmer Rouge regime led to massive violence, resulting in genocide and repatriation. Even before that, historically, Cambodia has been a theatre for war due to constant invasions by more powerful neighbouring kingdoms. It was during one of these invasions that the character of Ahp, a beautiful woman cursed to wander unfulfilled, was born. Since then there have been several local versions of the Ahp. Passed on orally, these stories adapt and modify themselves to specific regions and times. The common thread in all these stories is the Ahp’s position as the beautiful, forbidden and feared ‘other’.
As a recurring idea in the community’s mythical and psychological landscape, Ahp can be seen as a manifestation of a country’s violent history and the resulting psychological trauma.