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Bayon

Listed under Temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

  • Photo of Bayon
  • Photo of Bayon
  • Photo of Bayon
  • Photo of Bayon
  • Photo of Bayon
  • Photo of Bayon
  • Photo of Bayon
  • Photo of Bayon
Photo of Bayon
Photo by flickr user beggs
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Wherever you turn at the Bayon you’re being watched… After Angkor Wat, the Bayon is probably the best known Khmer temple in the Angkor area, famous for its many many serene stone faces. They’re giant, watching over everything in every direction, decorating most of the temple’s towers. The 216 large faces bear an uncanny resemblance to Jayavarman VII who’s responsible for building the 12th Century temple, but it’s unclear if that was an act of flattery on the part of the craftsmen and artists or not. Scholars believe the faces are really supposed to depict the bodhisattva of compassion Avalokitesvara. It’s likely the truth lies somewhere in between, and Jayavarman, a Buddhist, considered himself a bit of a bodhisattva and probably fairly compassionate as well. The Bayon was the first Buddhist temple to be built in Angkor and the last great state temple, but it’s been altered and added to by subsequent monarchs, especially as Hinduism surpassed Buddhism as the Angkor religion of choice. The face towers are actually thought to be an after sight, like an upwards extension, and there’s no obvious reason for the number of towers or number of faces on each tower – at one time there were 49 towers but at the moment there are 37 still standing.

The Bayon is also well known for its bas reliefs, there are two sections in particular, which tell all sorts of stories from Khmer history, mythology and daily life, unfortunately no text or translation has been included below the carvings so scholars aren’t clear exactly which scenes and events are depicted here. But there’s a pretty exciting scene with some Chinese soldiers and an elephant and musicians, as well as some great naval battles, again with what appear to be Chinese soldiers and merchants.

Probably the thing the Bayon is best known for is being at the very centre of the city of Angkor Thom, it doesn’t have the usually walls of moats, just the walls of the city surrounding it.

Written by  World Reviewer Staff.

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