Cambodian villagers are using "magic scarecrows" to fend off the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported. According to the publication, the practice is more than a century old and has been historically used by some villages in the country to ward off disease and evil spirits.
Reuters spoke to 64-year-old Ek Chan, who uses two scarecrows — one female and one male — at the gate of her home in Kandal province. The scarecrows are made of bamboo, rice hay, or wooden sticks and dressed in old clothes. The figures, known by locals as "Ting Mong," have reportedly given Ek Chan peace of mind amid the pandemic.
"Since I made these Ting Mongs, they helped to scare away any virus including the coronavirus and stop it spreading to my family," she said.
"I myself really believe in the magic of the scarecrows and I don't worry about catching the virus at all."
"That will kill this virus from our country," she said.
Cambodia has a population of approximately 16.25 million and a population density of 95 per kilometers squared, according to Worldometers. By comparison, the United States has a population of 328.2 million and a density of 36 per kilometers squared.
After Hungary's foreign minister tested positive for COVID-19 following his departure from the region, Cambodia enacted a temporary ban on gatherings and conducted testing and isolation on hundreds of people that could have been exposed to the coronavirus.
According to Local 12, the practice of using scarecrows to fend off the coronavirus has been used in America as well. In May, the news outlet highlighted the Cincinnati neighborhood of Northside, which has been using the figures to keep the deadly disease at bay.
Northside's Tina Gutierrez explained the purpose behind the mannequins and echoed her Cambodian counterparts.
"It's sort of an ancient tradition. There are many cultures that will put something on their porch or doorstep to scare away the evil spirits. So this is kind of a nod to that in a contemporary, artful way."