Angkor Wat
   HOME

TheInfoList



Angkor Wat (; km, អង្គរវត្ត "Temple city/city of temples") is the largest religious structure (temple complex) in the world by land area, measuring , located in
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...

Cambodia
. Originally constructed as a personal mausoleum for the Khmer King
Suryavarman II Suryavarman II ( km, សូរ្យវរ្ម័នទី២) posthumously named ''Paramavishnuloka'', was a Khmer king from 1113 AD to 1145-1150 AD and the builder of Angkor Wat Angkor Wat (; km, អង្គរវត្ត "Temple ci ...

Suryavarman II
, dedicated to
Vishnu Vishnu (; ; , ), also known as Narayana and Hari, is one of the principal deities Principal may refer to: Title or rank * Principal (academia), the chief executive of a university ** Principal (education), the head teacher of a primary or se ...

Vishnu
in the early 12th century, it was converted into a
Buddhist Temple A Buddhist temple or Buddhist monastery A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin ...

Buddhist Temple
towards the end of 12th century and remains so in the present day. The temple was built by Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yaśodharapura ( km, យសោធរបុរៈ, present-day
Angkor Angkor ( km, អង្គរ , ''capital city''), also known as Yasodharapura ( km, យសោធរបុរៈ; )Headly, Robert K.; Chhor, Kylin; Lim, Lam Kheng; Kheang, Lim Hak; Chun, Chen. 1977. ''Cambodian-English Dictionary''. Bureau of ...

Angkor
), the capital of the
Khmer Empire The Khmer Empire ( km, ចក្រភពខ្មែរ), or the Angkorian Empire ( km, ចក្រភពអង្គរ, link=no), are the terms that historians use to refer to Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ព ...

Khmer Empire
, as the state temple for the Empire. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of
Khmer architecture Khmer architecture ( km, ស្ថាបត្យកម្មខ្មែរ), also known as Angkorian architecture ( km, ស្ថាបត្យកម្មសម័យអង្គរ), is the architecture produced by the Khmer people, Khmers d ...

Khmer architecture
. Today, it is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for
Buddhists Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on Orig ...

Buddhists
in Cambodia and around the world. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on , and it is the country's main tourist attraction. Angkor Wat played a major role in converting Cambodia into a Buddhist Nation. Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the and the later . It is designed to represent
Mount Meru Mount is often used as part of the name of specific mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summi ...

Mount Meru
, home of the devas in
Hindu Hindus (; ) are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism. Jeffery D. Long (2007), A Vision for Hinduism, IB Tauris, , pages 35–37 Historically, the term has also been used as ...
and Buddhist cosmology. It lies within a
moat A moat is a deep, broad ditch, either dry or filled with water, that is dug and surrounds a castle A castle is a type of structure built during the predominantly by the or royalty and by . Scholars debate the scope of the word ''castl ...

moat
more than 5 kilometres (3 mi) long and an outer wall long. The temple has three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. At the centre of the temple stands a
quincunx A quincunx () is a geometric pattern consisting of five points arranged in a cross, with four of them forming a square or rectangle and a fifth at its center. It forms the arrangement of five units in the pattern corresponding to the five-spot o ...

quincunx
of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west. Scholars are divided as to the significance of this. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of its architecture, extensive
bas-reliefs Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term ''relief Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of th ...
, and statues of
Buddhas In Buddhism, Buddha (), "awakened one," is a title for someone who is Enlightenment in Buddhism, awake, and has attained Nirvana (Buddhism), nirvana and Buddhahood. The title is most commonly used for Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, wh ...
and
Deva Deva may refer to: Entertainment * ''Deva'' (1989 film), a 1989 Kannada film * ''Deva'' (1995 film), a 1995 Tamil film * ''Deva'' (2002 film), a 2002 Bengali film * Deva (2007 Telugu film) * ''Deva'' (2017 film), a 2017 Marathi film * Deva ( ...
s that adorn its walls.


Etymology

The modern name, Angkor Wat ( km, អង្គរវត្ត) (alternate name: ''Nokor Wat'', km, នគរវត្ត), means "Temple City" or "City of Temples" in . ''Angkor'' ( km, អង្គរ) meaning "city" or "capital city", is a vernacular form of the word ''nokor'' ( km, នគរ), which comes from the
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; , , ) is a of that belongs to the branch of the . It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languages had there from the northwest in the late . Sanskrit is the of , the language of classical , and of h ...

Sanskrit
/Pali word ''nagara'' (
Devanāgarī Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida An abugida (, from : አቡጊዳ), sometimes ...
: नगर).Chuon Nath Khmer Dictionary (1966, Buddhist Institute, Phnom Penh) ''
Wat A wat ( km, វត្ត, ; lo, ວັດ, ; th, วัด, ; khb, 「ᩅᨯ᩠ᨰ」(waD+Dha); nod, 「ᩅ᩠ᨯ᩶」 (w+Da2)) is a type of Buddhist temple and Brahminical temple in Cambodia, Laos, East Shan State, Yunnan and Thailand. ...
'' ( km, វត្ត) is the word for "temple grounds", also derived from
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; , , ) is a of that belongs to the branch of the . It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languages had there from the northwest in the late . Sanskrit is the of , the language of classical , and of h ...

Sanskrit
/
Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the ''Pāli Canon The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scripture Religious texts are t ...
''vāṭa'' (
Devanāgarī Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida An abugida (, from : አቡጊዳ), sometimes ...
: वाट), meaning "enclosure".Cambodian-English Dictionary by Robert K. Headley, Kylin Chhor, Lam Kheng Lim, Lim Hak Kheang, and Chen Chun (1977, Catholic University Press) The original name of the temple was Vrah Viṣṇuloka or Parama Viṣṇuloka (
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; , , ) is a of that belongs to the branch of the . It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languages had there from the northwest in the late . Sanskrit is the of , the language of classical , and of h ...

Sanskrit
), ( km, បរមវិស្ណុលោក – ''Barom Visnulōk'') which was the posthumous name of its royal founder.


History

Angkor Wat lies north of the modern town of
Siem Reap Siem Reap ( km, ក្រុងសៀមរាប, ''Siĕm Réap'' ) is the second largest city of Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the sout ...

Siem Reap
, and a short distance south and slightly east of the previous capital, which was centred at
Baphuon The Baphuon ( km, ប្រាសាទបាពួន) is a temple at Angkor Angkor ( km, អង្គរ , ''capital city''), also known as Yasodharapura ( km, យសោធរបុរៈ; )Headly, Robert K.; Chhor, Kylin; Lim, Lam Khen ...

Baphuon
. In an area of Cambodia where there is an essential group of ancient structures, it is the southernmost of Angkor's main sites. According to a myth, the construction of Angkor Wat was ordered by
Indra Indra (; Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. ...

Indra
to serve as a palace for his son Precha Ket Mealea. According to the 13th-century Chinese traveller
Zhou Daguan Zhou Daguan (; French: Tcheou Ta-Kouan; c. 1270–?) was a Chinese diplomat under the Temür Khan, Emperor Chengzong of Yuan. He is most well known for his accounts of the customs of Cambodia and the Angkor temple complexes during his visit the ...
, some believed that the temple was constructed in a single night by a divine architect. The initial design and construction of the temple took place in the first half of the 12th century, during the reign of
Suryavarman II Suryavarman II ( km, សូរ្យវរ្ម័នទី២) posthumously named ''Paramavishnuloka'', was a Khmer king from 1113 AD to 1145-1150 AD and the builder of Angkor Wat Angkor Wat (; km, អង្គរវត្ត "Temple ci ...

Suryavarman II
(ruled 1113 – c. 1150). Breaking from the
Shaiva Shaivism () is one of the major Hindu traditions that worships Shiva, also called Rudra, as the Supreme Being. It is considered to be the oldest living religion in the world. One of the largest Hindu denominations, It incorporates many sub- ...
tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to
Vishnu Vishnu (; ; , ), also known as Narayana and Hari, is one of the principal deities Principal may refer to: Title or rank * Principal (academia), the chief executive of a university ** Principal (education), the head teacher of a primary or se ...

Vishnu
. It was built as the king's state temple and capital city. As neither the foundation
stela A stele ( ),Anglicized plural steles ( ); Greek plural stelai ( ), from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country ...

stela
nor any contemporary inscriptions referring to the temple have been found, its original name is unknown, but it may have been known as "Varah Vishnu-lok" after the presiding deity. Work seems to have ended shortly after the king's death, leaving some of the
bas-relief Relief is a sculptural technique in which the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term ''relief Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background o ...
decoration unfinished. The term ''Vrah Viṣṇuloka'' or ''Parama Viṣṇuloka'' literally means "The king who has gone to the supreme world of Vishnu", which refer to Suryavarman II posthumously and intend to venerate his glory and memory. In 1177, approximately 27 years after the death of Suryavarman II, Angkor was sacked by the
Chams The Chams or Champa people (Cham Cham or CHAM may refer to: Ethnicities and languages *Chams The Chams or Cham people ( Cham: ''Urang Campa'' / ꨂꨣꩃ ꨌꩌꨛꨩ, vi, người Chăm or người Chàm, km, ជនជាតិចា ...

Chams
, the traditional enemies of the Khmer. Thereafter the empire was restored by a new king,
Jayavarman VII Jayavarman VII, posthumous name of Mahaparamasaugata ( km, ជ័យវរ្ម័នទី៧, c. 1122–1218), was king of the Khmer Empire The Khmer Empire (; km, ចក្រភពខ្មែរ, ), or Angkor Empire ( km, ចក្ ...

Jayavarman VII
, who established a new capital and state temple (
Angkor Thom Angkor Thom ( km, អង្គរធំ ; literally: "Great City"), (alternative name: Nokor Thom, ) located in present-day Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a countr ...

Angkor Thom
and the
Bayon The Bayon ( km, ប្រាសាទបាយ័ន, Prasat Bayon) is a richly decorated Khmer Buddhist temple at Angkor in Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a cou ...

Bayon
respectively), which was dedicated to Buddhism, because the King believes that the Hindu God had failed him, a few kilometres to the north. Therefore, Angkor Wat was also gradually converted into a Buddhist site and many Hindu sculptures were replaced by Buddhist Art. Towards the end of the 12th century, Angkor Wat gradually transformed from a Hindu centre of worship to
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
, which continues to the present day. Angkor Wat is unusual among the Angkor temples in that although it was largely neglected after the 16th century it was never completely abandoned. Fourteen inscriptions, dated from the 17th century, discovered in the Angkor area testify to
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of J ...
Buddhist pilgrims that had established small settlements alongside Khmer locals. At that time, the temple was thought by the Japanese visitors as the famed
Jetavana Jetavana () was one of the most famous of the Buddhist monasteries or viharas in India (present-day Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh (; 'Northern Province') is a state in northern India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India ...

Jetavana
garden of the
Buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an Śramaṇa, ascetic, a religious leader and teacher who lived in History of India#Iron Age (1500 – 200 BC ...

Buddha
, which originally located in the kingdom of
Magadha Magadha was an ancient Indian kingdom in southern Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by populatio ...

Magadha
, India. The best-known inscription tells of Ukondayu Kazufusa, who celebrated the
Khmer New Year Cambodian New Year or Khmer New Year ( km, បុណ្យចូលឆ្នាំខ្មែរ, , ), also called Choul Chnam Thmey ( km, ចូលឆ្នាំថ្មី, , , lit. 'Enter the New Year'), is the traditional celebration of t ...
at Angkor Wat in 1632. One of the first Western visitors to the temple was António da Madalena, a
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
friar who visited in 1586 and said that it "is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world. It has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of." In 1860, the temple was effectively rediscovered by the French naturalist and explorer
Henri Mouhot Henri Mouhot (May 15, 1826 — November 10, 1861) was a French naturalist and explorer of the mid-19th century. He was born in Montbéliard, Doubs Doubs (, ; ; frp, Dubs) is a Departments of France, department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comt ...

Henri Mouhot
, who popularised the site in the West through the publication of travel notes, in which he wrote: The splendid artistic legacy of Angkor Wat and other Khmer monuments in the
Angkor Angkor ( km, អង្គរ , ''capital city''), also known as Yasodharapura ( km, យសោធរបុរៈ; )Headly, Robert K.; Chhor, Kylin; Lim, Lam Kheng; Kheang, Lim Hak; Chun, Chen. 1977. ''Cambodian-English Dictionary''. Bureau of ...

Angkor
region led directly to France adopting Cambodia as a
protectorate A protectorate is a state that is controlled and protected by another sovereign state. It is a dependent territory that has been granted local autonomy over most internal affairs while still recognizing the suzerainty of a more powerful sovereign ...
on 11 August 1863 and invading Siam to take control of the ruins. This quickly led to Cambodia reclaiming lands in the northwestern corner of the country that had been under Siamese (Thai) control since AD 1351 (Manich Jumsai 2001), or by some accounts, AD 1431. There were no ordinary dwellings or houses or other signs of settlement, including cooking utensils, weapons, or items of clothing usually found at ancient sites. Instead, there is only evidence of the monuments themselves.''Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Southeast Asia: A Past Regained'' (1995). pp. 67–99 A French exploration commission began drawing up a list of principal monuments. Subsequent missions copied inscriptions written on Angkor buildings so scholars might translate them and learn something of Angkor's history. By 1885 they had worked up a chronology of the rulers and developed the outlines of a description of the civilization that had produced the temple complex. In 1898 the French decided to commit substantial funds to Angkor's preservation. Centuries of neglect had permitted the jungle to recapture many of the more significant structures, and unless efforts were made to free the buildings from the embrace of huge banyan and silk-cotton trees, they might soon be crushed to destruction. Angkor Wat's aesthetics were also on display in the plaster cast museum of
Louis Delaporte Louis Delaporte (Loches Loches () is a commune in the Indre-et-Loire department in central France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, cons ...
called ''musée Indo-chinois'' which existed in the Parisian Trocadero Palace from c.1880 to the mid-1920s. The 20th century saw a considerable restoration of Angkor Wat.Glaize p. 59. Gradually teams of laborers and archeologists pushed back the jungle and exposed the expanses of stone, permitting the sun once again to illuminate the dark corners of the temple. Angkor Wat caught the attention and imagination of wider audience in Europe when the pavilion of French protectorate of Cambodia, as part of
French Indochina French Indochina (previously spelled as French Indo-China; french: Indochine française; vi, Đông Dương thuộc Pháp, , lit. 'East Ocean under French Control; km, សហភាពឥណ្ឌូចិន), officially known as the Indochin ...
, recreated the life-size replica of Angkor Wat during
Paris Colonial Exposition The replica of the Cambodian temple at Angkor Wat The Paris Colonial Exhibition (or "''Exposition coloniale internationale''", International Colonial Exhibition) was a six-month colonial exhibition File:Expo coloniale 1906.jpg, 200px, Post ...
in 1931. Cambodia gained independence from France on 9 November 1953 and has controlled Angkor Wat since that time. It is safe to say that from the colonial period onwards until the site's nomination as UNESCO World Heritage in 1992, this specific temple of Angkor Wat was instrumental in the formation of the modern and gradually globalised concept of built cultural heritage. Restoration work was interrupted by the Cambodian Civil War and Khmer Rouge control of the country during the 1970s and 1980s, but relatively little damage was done during this period. Camping Khmer Rouge forces used whatever wood remained in the building structures for firewood, and a shoot-out between Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese forces put a few bullet holes in a bas relief. Far more damage was done after the wars, by art thieves working out of Thailand, which, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, claimed almost every head that could be lopped off the structures, including reconstructions. The temple is a powerful symbol of Cambodia, and is a source of great national pride that has factored into Cambodia's diplomatic relations with France, the United States, and its neighbour Thailand. A depiction of Angkor Wat has been a part of Flag of Cambodia, Cambodian national flags since the introduction of the first version circa 1863. From a larger historical and even transcultural perspective, however, the temple of Angkor Wat did not become a symbol of national pride ''sui generis'' but had been inscribed into a larger politico-cultural process of French-colonial heritage production in which the original temple site was presented in French colonial and universal exhibitions in Paris and Marseille between 1889 and 1937. In December 2015, it was announced that a research team from University of Sydney had found a previously unseen ensemble of buried towers built and demolished during the construction of Angkor Wat, as well as a massive structure of unknown purpose on its south side and wooden fortifications. The findings also include evidence of low-density residential occupation in the region, with a road grid, ponds, and mounds. These indicate that the temple precinct, bounded by moat and wall, may not have been used exclusively by the priestly elite, as was previously thought. The team used LiDAR, ground-penetrating radar and targeted excavation to map Angkor Wat.


Architecture


Site and plan

Angkor Wat, located at , is a unique combination of the Khmer architecture#Temple mountain, temple mountain (the standard design for the empire's state temples) and the later plan of concentric Khmer architecture#Gallery, galleries. The construction of Angkor Wat also suggests that there was a celestial significance with certain features of the temple. This is observed in the temple's east–west orientation, and lines of sight from terraces within the temple that show specific towers to be at the precise location of the sunrise on a solstice. The temple is a representation of
Mount Meru Mount is often used as part of the name of specific mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summi ...

Mount Meru
, the home of the gods: the central
quincunx A quincunx () is a geometric pattern consisting of five points arranged in a cross, with four of them forming a square or rectangle and a fifth at its center. It forms the arrangement of five units in the pattern corresponding to the five-spot o ...

quincunx
of towers symbolises the five peaks of the mountain, and the walls and moat symbolize the surrounding mountain ranges and ocean.Freeman and Jacques p. 48. Access to the upper areas of the temple was progressively more exclusive, with the laity being admitted only to the lowest level. Unlike most Khmer temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west rather than the east. This has led many (including Maurice Glaize and George Coedès) to conclude that Suryavarman intended it to serve as his funerary temple. Further evidence for this view is provided by the
bas-reliefs Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term ''relief Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of th ...
, which proceed in a counter-clockwise direction—''Mandir, prasavya'' in Hindu terminology—as this is the reverse of the normal order. Rituals take place in reverse order during Brahminic funeral services. The archaeologist Charles Higham (archaeologist), Charles Higham also describes a container which may have been a funerary jar which was recovered from the central tower.Higham, ''The Civilization of Angkor'' p. 118. It has been nominated by some as the greatest expenditure of energy on the disposal of a corpse. Freeman and Jacques, however, note that several other temples of
Angkor Angkor ( km, អង្គរ , ''capital city''), also known as Yasodharapura ( km, យសោធរបុរៈ; )Headly, Robert K.; Chhor, Kylin; Lim, Lam Kheng; Kheang, Lim Hak; Chun, Chen. 1977. ''Cambodian-English Dictionary''. Bureau of ...

Angkor
depart from the typical eastern orientation, and suggest that Angkor Wat's alignment was due to its dedication to
Vishnu Vishnu (; ; , ), also known as Narayana and Hari, is one of the principal deities Principal may refer to: Title or rank * Principal (academia), the chief executive of a university ** Principal (education), the head teacher of a primary or se ...

Vishnu
, who was associated with the west. Drawing on the temple's alignment and dimensions, and on the content and arrangement of the bas-reliefs, researcher Eleanor Mannikka argues that the structure represents a claimed new era of peace under King
Suryavarman II Suryavarman II ( km, សូរ្យវរ្ម័នទី២) posthumously named ''Paramavishnuloka'', was a Khmer king from 1113 AD to 1145-1150 AD and the builder of Angkor Wat Angkor Wat (; km, អង្គរវត្ត "Temple ci ...

Suryavarman II
: "as the measurements of solar and lunar time cycles were built into the sacred space of Angkor Wat, this divine mandate to rule was anchored to consecrated chambers and corridors meant to perpetuate the king's power and to honour and placate the deities manifest in the heavens above." Mannikka's suggestions have been received with a mixture of interest and scepticism in academic circles. She distances herself from the speculations of others, such as Graham Hancock, that Angkor Wat is part of a representation of the constellation Draco (constellation), Draco. The Angkor Wat temple's main tower aligns to the morning sun of the Spring equinox (Northern Hemisphere), Spring Equinox.


Style

Angkor Wat is the prime example of the classical style of
Khmer architecture Khmer architecture ( km, ស្ថាបត្យកម្មខ្មែរ), also known as Angkorian architecture ( km, ស្ថាបត្យកម្មសម័យអង្គរ), is the architecture produced by the Khmer people, Khmers d ...

Khmer architecture
—the Angkor Wat style—to which it has given its name. By the 12th century Khmer architects had become skilled and confident in the use of sandstone (rather than brick or laterite) as the main building material. Most of the visible areas are of sandstone blocks, while laterite was used for the outer wall and for hidden structural parts. The binding agent used to join the blocks is yet to be identified, although natural resins or slaked lime has been suggested. The temple has drawn praise above all for the harmony of its design. According to Maurice Glaize, a mid-20th-century conservator of Angkor, the temple "attains a classic perfection by the restrained monumentality of its finely balanced elements and the precise arrangement of its proportions. It is a work of power, unity, and style." Architecturally, the elements characteristic of the style include: the Ogive, ogival, redented towers shaped like Nelumbo nucifera, lotus buds; half-Architecture of Cambodia#Gallery, galleries to broaden passageways; axial galleries connecting enclosures; and the cruciform terraces which appear along the main axis of the temple. Typical decorative elements are Architecture of Cambodia#Apsara and devata, devatas (or apsaras), bas-reliefs, and on pediments extensive garlands and narrative scenes. The statuary of Angkor Wat is considered conservative, being more static and less graceful than earlier work. Other elements of the design have been destroyed by looting and the passage of time, including gilding, gilded stucco on the towers, gilding on some figures on the bas-reliefs, and wooden ceiling panels and doors.


Features


Outer enclosure

The outer wall, by and high, is surrounded by a apron of open ground and a moat wide and over 5 kilometres (3 mi) in perimeter. The moat extends 1.5 kilometres from east to west and 1.3 kilometres from north to south. Access to the temple is by an earth bank to the east and a sandstone causeway to the west; the latter, the main entrance, is a later addition, possibly replacing a wooden bridge.Freeman and Jacques p. 49. There are Architecture of Cambodia#Gopura, gopuras at each of the cardinal points; the western is by far the largest and has three ruined towers. Glaize notes that this gopura both hides and echoes the form of the temple proper. Under the southern tower is a statue known as ''Ta Reach'', originally an eight-armed statue of
Vishnu Vishnu (; ; , ), also known as Narayana and Hari, is one of the principal deities Principal may refer to: Title or rank * Principal (academia), the chief executive of a university ** Principal (education), the head teacher of a primary or se ...

Vishnu
, but when the temple was converted to Buddhist Temple in the 13th century, the statue was converted to a Buddha statue by replacing its head with the head of Buddha; originally it may have occupied the temple's central shrine. Galleries run between the towers and as far as two further entrances on either side of the gopura often referred to as "elephant gates", as they are large enough to admit those animals. These galleries have square pillars on the outer (west) side and a closed wall on the inner (east) side. The ceiling between the pillars is decorated with Nelumbo nucifera, lotus rosettes; the west face of the wall with dancing figures; and the east face of the wall with balustered windows, dancing male figures on prancing animals, and Architecture of Cambodia#Apsara and devata, devatas, including (south of the entrance) the only one in the temple to be showing her teeth. The outer wall encloses a space of 820,000 square metres (203 acres), which besides the temple proper was originally occupied by the city and, to the north of the temple, the royal palace. Like all secular buildings of Angkor, these were built of perishable materials rather than of stone, so nothing remains of them except the outlines of some of the streets.Freeman and Jacques p. 50. Most of the area is now covered by forest. A causeway connects the western gopura to the temple proper, with Architecture of Cambodia#Naga, naga balustrades and six sets of steps leading down to the city on either side. Each side also features a Architecture of Cambodia#Library, library with entrances at each cardinal point, in front of the third set of stairs from the entrance, and a pond between the library and the temple itself. The ponds are later additions to the design, as is the cruciform terrace guarded by lions connecting the causeway to the central structure.


Central structure

The temple stands on a terrace raised higher than the city. It is made of three rectangular Architecture of Cambodia#Gallery, galleries rising to a central tower, each level higher than the last. Mannikka interprets these galleries as being dedicated to the king, Brahma, the moon, and
Vishnu Vishnu (; ; , ), also known as Narayana and Hari, is one of the principal deities Principal may refer to: Title or rank * Principal (academia), the chief executive of a university ** Principal (education), the head teacher of a primary or se ...

Vishnu
. Each gallery has a gopura at each of the points, and the two inner galleries each have towers at their corners, forming a Architecture of Cambodia#Quincunx, quincunx with the central tower. Because the temple faces west, the features are all set back towards the east, leaving more space to be filled in each enclosure and gallery on the west side; for the same reason the west-facing steps are shallower than those on the other sides. The outer gallery measures by , with pavilions rather than towers at the corners. The gallery is open to the outside of the temple, with columned half-galleries extending and buttressing the structure. Connecting the outer gallery to the second enclosure on the west side is a cruciform cloister called ''Preah Poan'' (meaning "The Thousand Buddhas" Gallery). Gautama Buddha, Buddha images were left in the cloister by pilgrims over the centuries, although most have now been removed. This area has many inscriptions relating the good deeds of pilgrims, most written in but others in Burmese language, Burmese and Japanese. The four small courtyards marked out by the cloister may originally have been filled with water. North and south of the cloister are Architecture of Cambodia#Library, libraries. Beyond, the second and inner galleries are connected to each other and to two flanking libraries by another cruciform terrace, again a later addition. From the second level upwards, Architecture of Cambodia#Apsara and devata, devatas abound on the walls, singly or in groups of up to four. The second-level enclosure is by , and may originally have been flooded to represent the ocean around
Mount Meru Mount is often used as part of the name of specific mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summi ...

Mount Meru
. Three sets of steps on each side lead up to the corner towers and gopuras of the inner gallery. The very steep stairways represent the difficulty of ascending to the kingdom of the gods. This inner gallery, called the ''Bakan'', is a square with axial galleries connecting each gopura with the central shrine, and subsidiary shrines located below the corner towers. The roofings of the galleries are decorated with the motif of the body of a snake ending in the heads of lions or garudas. Carved Architecture of Cambodia#Lintels and pediments, lintels and pediments decorate the entrances to the galleries and to the shrines. The tower above the central shrine rises to a height of above the ground; unlike those of previous temple mountains, the central tower is raised above the surrounding four. The shrine itself, originally occupied by a statue of Vishnu and open on each side, was walled in when the temple was converted to Theravada Buddhism, the new walls featuring standing Buddhas. In 1934, the conservator George Trouvé excavated the pit beneath the central shrine: filled with sand and water it had already been robbed of its treasure, but he did find a sacred foundation deposit of gold leaf two metres above ground level.


Decoration

Integrated with the architecture of the building, and one of the causes for its fame is Angkor Wat's extensive decoration, which predominantly takes the form of bas-relief friezes. The inner walls of the outer gallery bear a series of large-scale scenes mainly depicting episodes from the Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Higham has called these, "the greatest known linear arrangement of stone carving". From the north-west corner anti-clockwise, the western gallery shows the Battle of Lanka (from the Ramayana, in which Rama defeats Ravana) and the Kurukshetra War, Battle of Kurukshetra (from the Mahabharata, showing the mutual annihilation of the Kaurava and Pandava clans). On the southern gallery follow the only historical scene, a procession of
Suryavarman II Suryavarman II ( km, សូរ្យវរ្ម័នទី២) posthumously named ''Paramavishnuloka'', was a Khmer king from 1113 AD to 1145-1150 AD and the builder of Angkor Wat Angkor Wat (; km, អង្គរវត្ត "Temple ci ...

Suryavarman II
, then the 32 hells and 37 heavens of Hinduism. On the eastern gallery is one of the most celebrated scenes, the Kurma, Churning of the Sea of Milk, showing 92 asuras and 88 deva (Hinduism), devas using the serpent Vasuki (snake), Vasuki to churn the sea under Vishnu's direction (Mannikka counts only 91 asuras, and explains the asymmetrical numbers as representing the number of days from the winter solstice to the spring equinox (Northern Hemisphere), spring equinox, and from the equinox to the summer solstice). It is followed by Vishnu defeating asuras (a 16th-century addition). The northern gallery shows Krishna's victory over Banasura, Bana (where according to Glaize, "The workmanship is at its worst"). Angkor Wat is decorated with depictions of apsaras and devata; there are more than 1,796 depictions of devata in the present research inventory. Angkor Wat architects employed small apsara images (–) as decorative motifs on pillars and walls. They incorporated larger devata images (all full-body portraits measuring approximately –) more prominently at every level of the temple from the entry pavilion to the tops of the high towers. In 1927, Sappho Marchal published a study cataloging the remarkable diversity of their hair, headdresses, garments, stance, jewellery and decorative flowers, which Marchal concluded were based on actual practices of the Angkor period.


Construction techniques

The stones, as smooth as polished marble, were laid without mortar with very tight joints that are sometimes hard to find. The blocks were held together by mortise and tenon joints in some cases, while in others they used dovetails and gravity. The blocks were presumably put in place by a combination of elephants, coir ropes, pulleys and bamboo scaffolding. Henri Mouhot noted that most of the blocks had holes in diameter and deep, with more holes on the larger blocks. Some scholars have suggested that these were used to join them together with iron rods, but others claim they were used to hold temporary pegs to help manoeuvre them into place. The monument was made out of 5 to 10 million sandstone blocks with a maximum weight of 1.5 tons each. In fact, the entire city of
Angkor Angkor ( km, អង្គរ , ''capital city''), also known as Yasodharapura ( km, យសោធរបុរៈ; )Headly, Robert K.; Chhor, Kylin; Lim, Lam Kheng; Kheang, Lim Hak; Chun, Chen. 1977. ''Cambodian-English Dictionary''. Bureau of ...

Angkor
used up far greater amounts of stone than all the Egyptian pyramids combined, and occupied an area significantly greater than modern-day Paris. Moreover, unlike the Egyptian pyramids which use limestone quarried barely away all the time, the entire city of Angkor was built with sandstone quarried (or more) away. This sandstone had to be transported from Mount Kulen, a quarry approximately to the northeast. The route has been suggested to span along a canal towards Tonlé Sap lake, another crossing the lake, and finally against the current along Siem Reap River, making a total journey of . However, Etsuo Uchida and Ichita Shimoda of Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan have discovered in 2011 a shorter canal connecting Mount Kulen and Angkor Wat using satellite imagery. The two believe that the Khmer used this route instead. Virtually all of its surfaces, columns, lintels, and even roofs are carved. There are miles of reliefs illustrating scenes from Indian literature including unicorns, griffins, winged dragons pulling chariots as well as warriors following an elephant-mounted leader and celestial dancing girls with elaborate hairstyles. The gallery wall alone is decorated with almost 1,000 square metres of bas reliefs. Holes on some of the Angkor walls indicate that they may have been decorated with bronze sheets. These were highly prized in ancient times and were a prime target for robbers. While excavating Khajuraho, Alex Evans, a stonemason and sculptor, recreated a stone sculpture under , this took about 60 days to carve. Roger Hopkins and Mark Lehner also conducted experiments to quarry limestone which took 12 quarrymen 22 days to quarry about 400 tons of stone. The labour force to quarry, transport, carve and install so much sandstone must have run into the thousands including many highly skilled artisans. The skills required to carve these sculptures were developed hundreds of years earlier, as demonstrated by some artefacts that have been dated to the seventh century, before the Khmer came to power.


Angkor Wat today


Restoration and conservation

As with most other ancient temples in Cambodia, Angkor Wat has faced extensive damage and deterioration by a combination of plant overgrowth, fungi, ground movements, war damage and theft. The war damage to Angkor Wat's temples however has been very limited, compared to the rest of Cambodia's temple ruins, and it has also received the most attentive restoration. The restoration of Angkor Wat in the modern era began with the establishment of the Conservation d'Angkor (Angkor Conservancy) by the École française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO) in 1908; before that date, activities at the site were primarily concerned with exploration. The Conservation d'Angkor was responsible for the research, conservation, and restoration activities carried out at Angkor until the early 1970s, and a major restoration of Angkor was undertaken in the 1960s. However, work on Angkor was abandoned during the Khmer Rouge era and the Conservation d'Angkor was disbanded in 1975. Between 1986 and 1992, the Archaeological Survey of India carried out restoration work on the temple, as France did not recognise the Cambodian government at the time. Criticisms have been raised about both the early French restoration attempts and particularly the later Indian work, with concerns over damage done to the stone surface by the use of chemicals and cement. In 1992, following an appeal for help by Norodom Sihanouk, Angkor Wat was listed in UNESCO's World Heritage in Danger (later removed in 2004) and World Heritage Site together with an appeal by UNESCO to the international community to save Angkor. Zoning of the area was set up to protect the Angkor site in 1994, APSARA was established in 1995 to protect and manage the area, and a law to protect Cambodian heritage was passed in 1996. A number of countries such as France, Japan and China are currently involved in various Angkor Wat conservation projects. The German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP) is working to protect the Architecture of Cambodia#Apsaras and devatas, devatas, and other bas-reliefs which decorate the temple, from damage. The organisation's survey found that around 20% of the devatas were in very poor condition, mainly because of natural erosion and deterioration of the stone but in part also due to earlier restoration efforts. Other work involves the repair of collapsed sections of the structure, and prevention of further collapse: the west facade of the upper level, for example, has been buttressed by scaffolding since 2002, while a Japanese team completed restoration of the north library of the outer enclosure in 2005. World Monuments Fund began conservation work on the Churning of the Sea of Milk Gallery in 2008 after several years of studies on its condition. The project restored the traditional Khmer roofing system and removed cement used in earlier restoration attempts that had resulted in Efflorescence, salts entering the structure behind the bas-relief, discoloring and damaging the sculpted surfaces. The main phase of work ended in 2012, with the final component being the installation of finials on the roof of the gallery in 2013. Microbial biofilms have been found degrading sandstone at Angkor Wat, Preah Khan, and the Bayon and West Prasat in Angkor. The dehydration- and radiation-resistant filamentous cyanobacteria can produce organic acids that degrade the stone. A dark filamentous fungus was found in internal and external Preah Khan samples, while the alga ''Trentepohlia (alga), Trentepohlia'' was found only in samples taken from external, pink-stained stone at Preah Khan. Replicas have been made to replace some of the lost or damaged sculptures.


Tourism

Since the 1990s, Angkor Wat has become a major tourist destination. In 1993, there were only 7,650 visitors to the site; by 2004, government figures show that 561,000 foreign visitors had arrived in Siem Reap province that year, approximately 50% of all foreign tourists in Cambodia. The number reached over a million in 2007, and over two million by 2012. Most visited Angkor Wat, which received over two million foreign tourists in 2013, and 2.6 million by 2018. The site was managed by the private Sokimex, SOKIMEX group between 1990 and 2016, which rented it from the Cambodian government. The influx of tourists has so far caused relatively little damage, other than some graffiti; ropes and wooden steps have been introduced to protect the bas-reliefs and floors, respectively. Tourism has also provided some additional funds for maintenance—as of 2000 approximately 28% of ticket revenues across the whole
Angkor Angkor ( km, អង្គរ , ''capital city''), also known as Yasodharapura ( km, យសោធរបុរៈ; )Headly, Robert K.; Chhor, Kylin; Lim, Lam Kheng; Kheang, Lim Hak; Chun, Chen. 1977. ''Cambodian-English Dictionary''. Bureau of ...

Angkor
site was spent on the temples—although most work is carried out by teams sponsored by foreign governments rather than by the Cambodian authorities. Since Angkor Wat has seen significant growth in tourism throughout the years, UNESCO and its International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC), in association with representatives from the Royal Government and APSARA, organised seminars to discuss the concept of "cultural tourism". Wanting to avoid commercial and mass tourism, the seminars emphasised the importance of providing high-quality accommodation and services in order for the Cambodian government to benefit economically, while also incorporating the richness of Cambodian culture. In 2001, this incentive resulted in the concept of the "Angkor Tourist City" which would be developed with regard to traditional Khmer architecture, contain leisure and tourist facilities, and provide luxurious hotels capable of accommodating large numbers of tourists. The prospect of developing such large tourist accommodations has encountered concerns from both APSARA and the ICC, claiming that previous tourism developments in the area have neglected construction regulations and more of these projects have the potential to damage landscape features. Also, the large scale of these projects have begun to threaten the quality of the nearby town's water, sewage, and electricity systems. It has been noted that such high frequency of tourism and growing demand for quality accommodations in the area, such as the development of a large highway, has had a direct effect on the underground water table, subsequently straining the structural stability of the temples at Angkor Wat. Locals of Siem Reap have also voiced concern that the charm and atmosphere of their town have been compromised in order to entertain tourism. Since this local atmosphere is the key component to projects like Angkor Tourist City, the local officials continue to discuss how to successfully incorporate future tourism without sacrificing local values and culture. At the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2012, it was agreed that Borobudur and Angkor Wat would become sister sites and the provinces sister provinces.


See also

* Indosphere * Greater India * Hinduism in Southeast Asia * Buddhism in Southeast Asia * List of Hindu temples * List of Buddhist temples


References


Bibliography

* Falser, Michael (2020) ''Angkor Wat – A Transcultural History of Heritage. Volume 1: Angkor in France. From Plaster Casts to Exhibition Pavilions. Volume 2: Angkor in Cambodia. From Jungle Find to Global Icon''. Berlin-Boston DeGruyter * * Briggs, Lawrence Robert (1951, reprinted 1999). ''The Ancient Khmer Empire''. White Lotus. . * Forbes, Andrew; Henley, David (2011). ''Angkor, Eighth Wonder of the World''. Chiang Mai: Cognoscenti Books. * Freeman, Michael and Jacques, Claude (1999). ''Ancient Angkor''. River Books. . * Higham, Charles (2001). ''The Civilization of Angkor''. Phoenix. . * Higham, Charles (2003). ''Early Cultures of Mainland Southeast Asia''. Art Media Resources. . * Hing Thoraxy. Achievement of "APSARA": Problems and Resolutions in the Management of the Angkor Area. * * Petrotchenko, Michel (2011). ''Focusing on the Angkor Temples: The Guidebook'', 383 pages, Amarin Printing and Publishing, 2nd edition, * Ray, Nick (2002). ''Lonely Planet guide to Cambodia'' (4th edition). .


External links

* * Buckley, Michael (1998). ''Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos Handbook''. Avalon Travel Publications. Online excerp
The Churning of the Ocean of Milk
retrieved 25 July 2005. * Glaize, Maurice (2003 edition of an English translation of the 1993 French fourth edition)

Retrieved 14 July 2005. * University of Applied Sciences Cologne
German Apsara Conservation Project
Retrieved 2 May 2010. * University of Heidelberg, Germany, Chair of Global Art History, Project (Michael Falser): Heritage as a Transcultural Concept – Angkor Wat from an Object of Colonial Archaeology to a Contemporary Global Ico

* BBC Horizon (4 November 1999)

Broadcast BBC Two, BBC2 4 November 1999, retrieved 25 July 2005.
Battle Of Kurukshetra Mural At Angkor Wat
Centre For 21st Century Humanities, 2018
Angkor Wat and Angkor photo gallery by Jaroslav Poncar
May 2010
Angkor digital media archive
– Photos, laser scans, panoramas of Angkor Wat's Western Causeway and Banteay Kdei from a CyArk/Sophia University/University of California partnership.
BBC: Map reveals ancient urban sprawl
August 2007
Guide to the Angkor Monuments – PDF Downloadable English translation of Maurice Glaize's 1944 guide

Inventory of Angkor Wat devata (sacred Khmer women)
February 2010
Laser technology reveals lost city around Angkor Wat
June 2013
Roland Fletcher, director of the Greater Angkor Project, lectures on "LiDAR, Water and the Demise of Greater Angkor" in November, 2013

Voice of Angkor, an Angkor Temples Guide
{{Authority control 12th-century Hindu temples 12th-century Buddhist temples Angkorian sites in Siem Reap Province Khmer Empire Archaeoastronomy Archaeological sites in Cambodia Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Cambodia Buddhist temples in Siem Reap Province Hindu temples in Siem Reap Province National symbols of Cambodia Tourist attractions in Cambodia Tourist attractions in Siem Reap Province World Heritage Sites in Cambodia Articles containing video clips