Prasat Bayon

August 28, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

 

Bayon LandscapeBayon LandscapeBayon, or Prasat Bayon, is a well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple at Angkor in Cambodia. Built in the late 12th century or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman's capital, Angkor Thom. Following Jayavarman's death, it was modified and augmented by later Hindu and Theravada Buddhist kings in accordance with their own religious preferences.

The Bayon's most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak. The temple is known also for two impressive sets of bas-reliefs, which present an unusual combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes. The current main conservatory body, the Japanese Government team for the Safeguarding of Angkor (the JSA) has described the temple as "the most striking expression of the baroque style" of Khmer architecture, as contrasted with the classical style of Angkor Wat. - From Wikipedia

I had lived in Asia for a number of years before going to see Ankor Wat and the other sites in Siam Reap, Cambodia.  Maybe it was my fear that it would be overrun by tourists that kept me away.  Once I finally got there I realized that I had been a fool and should have gone much earlier, and probably more than once.  There were many tourists, of course, but our guide knew the ebb and flow of the tour groups and did a great job of bringing us to places when they were mostly empty.

One of my favorite places in Siam Reap was Bayon, also known as Prasat Bayon.  Bayon is one of the most well-known temples and is located in the Ankor Thom complex.  It was built in the late 12th or early 13th century by the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII and was restored in the early 20th Century by the École Française d'Extrême Orient and has been cared for by the Japanese Government team for the Safeguarding of Angkor (the JSA) since 1995.

Bayon FacesBayon FacesBayon, or Prasat Bayon, is a well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple at Angkor in Cambodia. Built in the late 12th century or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman's capital, Angkor Thom. Following Jayavarman's death, it was modified and augmented by later Hindu and Theravada Buddhist kings in accordance with their own religious preferences.

The Bayon's most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak. The temple is known also for two impressive sets of bas-reliefs, which present an unusual combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes. The current main conservatory body, the Japanese Government team for the Safeguarding of Angkor (the JSA) has described the temple as "the most striking expression of the baroque style" of Khmer architecture, as contrasted with the classical style of Angkor Wat. - From Wikipedia

The most famous feature of Bayon are the many large faces looking down from the temple. No one is quite sure who the 216 faces represent.  Some people believe they are of Jayavarman while others belong to the bodhisattva of compassion called Avalokitesvara or Lokesvara.  No matter who they represent, the serene, omnipresent faces have come to define and represent the temple.

Bayon ApsaraBayon ApsaraOne of the many Apsara carvings around the Bayon temple in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.

An Apsara, or Tep Apsar (ទេព​អប្សរ) in Khmer, is a female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Apsaras are beautiful, supernatural women who are youthful and elegant, and proficient in the art of dancing.

Bayon, or Prasat Bayon, is a well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple at Angkor in Cambodia. Built in the late 12th century or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman's capital, Angkor Thom. Following Jayavarman's death, it was modified and augmented by later Hindu and Theravada Buddhist kings in accordance with their own religious preferences.

The Bayon's most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak. The temple is known also for two impressive sets of bas-reliefs, which present an unusual combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes. The current main conservatory body, the Japanese Government team for the Safeguarding of Angkor (the JSA) has described the temple as "the most striking expression of the baroque style" of Khmer architecture, as contrasted with the classical style of Angkor Wat. - From Wikipedia

If you look beyond the faces, you can find many small, interesting carvings on the pillars and walls of the complex. While not as impressive as the faces, I found them to be very interesting (and photogenic).

 

Bayon ReliefBayon ReliefBayon, or Prasat Bayon, is a well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple at Angkor in Cambodia. Built in the late 12th century or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman's capital, Angkor Thom. Following Jayavarman's death, it was modified and augmented by later Hindu and Theravada Buddhist kings in accordance with their own religious preferences.

The Bayon's most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak. The temple is known also for two impressive sets of bas-reliefs, which present an unusual combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes. The current main conservatory body, the Japanese Government team for the Safeguarding of Angkor (the JSA) has described the temple as "the most striking expression of the baroque style" of Khmer architecture, as contrasted with the classical style of Angkor Wat. - From Wikipedia

Click on any photo to open it in the gallery where you can download, pin, like, or share it.  You can see other photos of Bayon in my Cambodia gallery

If you enjoy my photos, please feel free to browse this web site. You can also find me on flickr, facebook, pinterest , and twitter.

 


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