Preah Khan

high-definition creative commons photographs from this Angkorian site in Cambodia, one of the largely unrestored places where nature has overgrown the original temple, together with further information and a map.

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Map of Preah KhanPreah Khan was built on the site of Jayavarman VII's victory over the invading Chams in 1191. It is located just west of the Jayatataka Baray, with which it was associated. It was the centre of a substantial organisation, with almost 100,000 officials and servants. The temple is flat in design, with a basic plan of successive rectangular galleries around a Buddhist sanctuary complicated by Hindu satellite temples and numerous later additions. Like the nearby Ta Prohm, Preah Khan has been left largely unrestored, with numerous trees and other vegetation growing among the ruins.

The main image, of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara in the form of the king's father, was dedicated in 1191. 430 other deities also had shrines on the site, each of which received an allotment of food, clothing, perfume and even mosquito nets; the temple's wealth included gold, silver, gems, 112,300 pearls and a cow with gilded horns. The institution combined the roles of city, temple and Buddhist university: there were 97,840 attendants and servants, including 1000 dancers and 1000 teachers.

The temple is still largely unrestored: the initial clearing was from 1927 to 1932, and partial anastylosis was carried out in 1939. Since then free-standing statues have been removed for safe-keeping, and there has been further consolidation and restoration work. Since 1991, the site has been maintained by the World Monuments Fund. It has continued the cautious approach of restoration, believing that to go further would involve too much guesswork, and prefers to respect the ruined nature of the temple.

Text adapted from Wikipedia (retrieved, March 3rd 2010)

The last photograph in this collection is of Queen Indradevi, who was the King's 2nd wife. She was a famous teacher who was expert in the advanced philosophical systems in Buddhism and taught at the University of Banteay Kdei which was also built by Jayavarman VII.

Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

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