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The Rice Harvest, Notes Of The Second Riel: 1 Riel (Cambodia, 1979)-Article

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

This small Cambodian banknote represents the 4th denomination of the Second Riel (Seventh Issue, Series 1979). The Second Riel was introduced 1 April 1980, during the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia. Which was in response to the Cambodian (Democratic Kampuchea) invasion of Vietnam. Beginning the drawn out Cambodian–Vietnamese War (1978-1989).

The Vietnamese successful counter-attack lead to the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge government. And the establishment of the People's Republic of Kampuchea (1979-1989). Notably the Second Riel was technically preceded by the Democratic Kampuchea Riel (Series 1975). Which were withdrawn and destroyed, due to the Khmer Rouge abolishing the concept of currency. (This banknote will be reviewed reverse first.)


The reverse depicts Khmer farmers harvesting rice. Water buffalos can be seen being driven in the background. Rice is the staple crop of Cambodian farmers, it uses the majority of land. The traditional paddy rice is known as sên krâ-op, which is an aromatic long grain type. While land around Lake Tonlé Sap is known for its deep water rice.

Unlike the observe the reverse frame features both Khmer and standard script/numerals. The note's 1 Riel value is listed at the lower-left and right (๑រៀល). While the header features more complex Khmer script (មួយកាក់), repeating the same value.

The reverse border is highly ornate, with floral imagery. This style is based on traditional Khmer stonework. Featuring precise geometric cuts and thick rounded edges. This art style was nearly lost due to Khmer Rouge rule. As they associated Buddhist-inspired artwork to be linked to classism and feudalism.


The observe features Coat of Arms of the People's Republic of Kampuchea (1979-1981). Notably this short-lived Coat of Arms was replaced by a more elaborate design (1981-1989). Which again was replaced by another design, representing the transitional State of Cambodia. It was eventually replaced by the pre-revolutionary Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Cambodia (1953-1970/1993-20xx).

Returning to the observe, nearly all text is printed Khmer script and numerals. The header reads "សាធារណរដ្ឋប្រជាមានិតកម្ពុជា", translated as the "PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KAMPUCHEA". Above the footer is additional text it reads, "មួយរៀល" or "One Riel". While the footer itself lists the note's print date "1979".

To the left of the note's illustration is the Coat of Arms of the People's Republic of Kampuchea. Below this Coat of Arms one of the note's serial numbers. It reads "គគ 8526456", roughly translation to "KK 8526456". Notably the Khmer alphabet does not directly translate to Latin/standard script.

Moving toward the ornate border, we see an art style reminiscent of Khmer stonework. The corners list the the notes value. The corners simply read "๑" or "1", representing the note's 1 Riel value.

Second Riel (Series 1979) Gallery

(Gallery will be updated, as new banknotes are databased)


Additional Notes

  • The note's dimensions are 124 x 62 mm or 4.88 x 2.44 in, smaller than a US Dollar.

  • The preferable method to preserve this note are side-opening sleeves, cut to size.

  • The Second Riel uses the ISO code is KHR and "" as its symbol.

  • The Second Riel was sub-divided into 10 Kak/100 Sen, before rising inflation made these denominations obsolete.

  • Since the 1990s the US Dollar has been used as an accepted currency, in Cambodian retail.

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