The Place of a Thousand Buddhas

The Angkor Wat was commissioned by Sruyavarman II as a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. It mimics the the structure of the mythical Mount Mehru which houses the lord Brahma and other demi-gods called Devas. But after a couple of hundred years this majestic temple was sacked by the Chams, but it was later reclaimed by Jayavarman II and built another temple complex just a few kilometers away north of Angkor Wat. Jayavarman, being a Mahayana Buddhist himself, converted that whole Angkorian Complex to a Buddhist structure that features stupas and other buddhists related art and decorations. The most common of these is the Bayon which scholars speculate is the amalgalmation of Buddha’s face and Jayavarman’s. The gentle face of the Bayon along with its wise smile and strong conviction is called the “The Great Smile of Angkor”, as the owner of the head is the king who unified Cambodia.

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of Buddha statues are scattered among the ruins of this ancient Khmer city in Siem Reap, and I took the oppurtunity to capture these enigmatic statues that resonates peace and mystery.

Note: I took the liberty of adding Apsaras in this set because I think that Khmer culture and it’s own brand of Buddhism is not complete without them.


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