Fr. John Domin
1923 - 2017
Tue 6/13 10:30 am
Bayon, built at the end of the 12th century is conceivably a microcosm of the kingdom with representations of both major religions - Buddhist to the south and east and Hindu to the north and west.
If you look closely, you can see some of the 216 enormous faces of Avalokiteshvara, that bear a significant likeness to Cambodia's legendary king, Jayavarman VII, on the 54 Gothic towers.
The huge faces smile down from every angle of the towers, watching over and emanating control over the kingdom.
The heads, which surround a visitor, signify not only control but the omnipresence of the kingdom's principal divinity, the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.
The detail of these carved seated deities can be found throughout the monuments of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.
The numerous temples and monuments of Angkor Thom, with Bayon located in the center, comprise more than 10 square killometers. Counting all of the buildings, Angkor Thom is larger in size than Angkor Wat.
The carved heads of Bayon seem to epitomize the creativity and inflated ego of Jayavarman VII, Cambodia's legendary king
One can get an idea of the size of the enormous smiling faces from this picture.
The 54 faces of Avalokiteshvara, in profile and straight on, are inescapable in Bayon.
Angkor Thom is enclosed by a jayagiri, (square wall), part of which can be seen above, eight meters high and 12 kilometers in length and surrounded by a 100 meter-wide jayasindhu (moat).
This is an example of some of the restoration work being done on Bayon.
Bas-reliefs depict the naval battle between the Khmers the neighboring Cham, and fish that could be found in the waters of Tonle Sap Lake, where the battle was fought. Carvings at Bayon also portray scenes from the life of Khmer villagers.
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