Ta Prohm And Preah Khan; Khmer Cities During Angkor’s Glory Days, Part Three

by bria4123 on April 4, 2012

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OK, here’s an Indiana Jones shot which people expect when whey explore Ta Prohm and Preah Khan. Now let’s appreciate them more deeply.

This picture shows one of the walls that encloses Preah Khan’s inner sanctuary, where you can discover some of the inner meanings of one of the greatest Khmer temples.

You come to the inner system of temples at Preah Khan and Ta Prohm after walking through their huge outer enclosures, where thousands of monks and administrators must have lived. As you reach the inner sections, the construction suddenly becomes dense, and you’re immersed in a complex world full of symbolic meanings. At first, you’re surrounded by celestial elegance.

Ta Prohm and Preah Khan have a Hall of the Dancers towards the front of the central sections, with many apsaras carved on the walls. These heavenly dancers enliven several parts of both complexes–they grace Angkor Wat too.

Hiram Woodward thinks that the 615 female dancers who lived at Ta Prohm might have dramatized the Buddha’s birth. Claude Jacques wrote that niches above some of the dancers contained carvings of the Buddha, and that they were destroyed in a Hindu reaction later in the 13th century, after Jayavarman VII’s reign. But I wondered if some of the hormone laden teenage and twenty-something monks studying there saw the figures as BU–Boob University.  Fratboy heaven.

But many of the walls within the Ta Prohm’s and Preah Khan’s central sections are as elegant as the dancers. Above we see animated foliage surrounding ascetics. Perhaps they’re meditating to take their minds off all the women:-)

But carvings of foliage, swirls and flame patterns grace most of the wall space. Ta Prohm and Preah Khan project refinement and power from bottom to top. Ancient Greeks loved clear and straight lines, but Khmer monuments project cosmic energies, and make them opulent and regal.

Ta Prohm’s inventory included musical instruments. They complemented the visual feasts.

Both Ta Prohm and Preah Khan blended sensuality and elegance so much that residents might have thought that they were in the gods’ palace. But both had another side, which I found rather sinister. We’ll explore the darker side of Ta Prohm and Preah Khan in the next post.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Funter June 18, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I loved these pictures, eslacielpy since I’d recently seen similar ones and read about these temples recently in either Smithsonian or National Geographic. In fact, there was a shot of the tree in your next to last photo that was almost the same.To see and read about these places in magazines is one thing, but to actually see them in person must have been a truly awe inspiring experience.

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hermes7 June 30, 2012 at 7:52 am

Being alone with Cambodians was every bit as awe-inspiring. They had so much dignity in spite of the traumatic past. They’re very friendly with people who take a personal interest in them.

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Nevzat February 4, 2015 at 10:34 am

Your photos are amzniag! My husband and I are also planning our trip to Thailand this winter, and your photos remind us why we chose Thailand. I can’t wait!

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