All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Day three - page one
(relief in Banteay Srey)
This small Hindu temple is located next to the southern gate of Angkor Thom, but it was built in an earlier period (Xth century).
It is one of the first temples constructed of bricks and laterite (a local surface stone) and its simple, yet very elegant design, served as model for many other temples built at a later stage.
The French archaeologists who first worked at cleaning and restoring the monuments of Angkor, were faced with a difficult choice: whether to limit their activity to providing a safe access to the buildings or to restore their original appearance and to ensure their long term conservation.
Many monuments have concrete foundations and to some extent are the results of reconstructions: the site of Ta Prohm was chosen for showing how the monuments would appear with just limited conservation activity. It is improper to say it has been left in the same condition it was found, yet it gives the visitor a feeling of what the first explorers experienced when they reached the site.
Ta Prohm was built by King Jayavarman VII at the same time as the walls of Angkor Thom and of Bayon: it shows many similarities with these monuments: it was dedicated to Buddha, its pavilions are carved with faces of Avalokitesvara, (the Lord who looks down with compassion) and in general the decoration is very rich.
Ta Prohm was decorated with narrative bas-reliefs portraying episodes of the life of Buddha: these were almost totally erased after the death of King Jayavarman VII, when there was a return to traditional Hindu beliefs. The nice devata were spared.
To most visitors Ta Prohm is mainly associated with the gigantic trees which have grown upon the roofs of some buildings and with the melancholic sight of the marshes which surround the main temple.
SEE THESE OTHER EXHIBITIONS (for a full list see my detailed list).