The Origins of Angkor Wat (12th C AD)

By: The Scribe on Saturday, March 24, 2007



Angkor Wat
Built in the 12th century for King Suryavarman II of the Khmer Empire, Angkor Wat was a Cambodian temple to the Hindu god Vishnu, and has been described as a rival to the splendor of the ancient temples in Greece and Rome. It was designed to reflect the home of the gods in Hindu mythology, containing a moat to represent the ‘cosmic ocean’, and an outer wall 3.6 km long that surrounds the temple complex.

In the middle of the temple, there is a ‘quincunx’ of towers – that is, five towers to represent the five mountains of the gods. There was extensive bas-relief decoration in three temple galleries and around the walls, though much of it has now been cut away and sold on the black antiquities market, making the interpretation of the scenes much more complex.The remaining panels we have depict various scenes from Hindu mythology, such as thoseAngkor Wat from the sky from the Sanskrit epic poems Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Other panels show battle scenes, historical scenes of the king, as well as images of the 37 heavens and 32 hells of Hindu mythology. One of the most impressive features of the complex is also a causeway, leading to the enormous entrance, along which are balustrades in the shape of giant serpents. These were likely intended to be representations of the divine nature of fertility.

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