2018 Vacation: Cambodia / Siem Reap / Banteay Srei – UNESCO World Heritage Site

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BANTEAY SRIE – – UNESCO World Heritage Site [WHS],
as part of Angkor Archaeological Park, listed as WHS in 1992.

Consecrated: 967

Creator: Yajnavaraha

Sanctum: Shiva temple

The temple is said to be the “Jewel of Khmer Art.”

In Khmer, the temple’s name Banteay Srie means  “citadel of the women”.
Though the original name is “Tribhuvanamaheśvara,” [meaning Great Lord of the Threefold World], an appellation of the god Shiva.

Banteay Srie is a UNESCO World Heritage Site [WHS], as part of Angkor Archaeological Park, which was listed in 1992. Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat , and also monuments like Bayon, Baphoun, Elephant Terrace, Ta Prohm, Preah Khan, and Banteay Srei.

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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Banteay Srie was the only major temple at Angkor not built by a monarch. Its construction is credited to the courtiers named Vishnukumara and Yajnavaraha. The foundational stela says that Yajnavaraha, grandson of king Harsavarman I, was a scholar and philanthropist who helped those who suffered from illness, injustice, or poverty. His pupil was the future king Jayavarman V.

In Khmer, the temple’s name Banteay Srie means “citadel of the women”. Though the original name of the temple is Isvarapura – City of Shiva. However, the temple buildings appear to be divided along the central east–west axis between those buildings located south of the axis, which are devoted to Shiva, and those north of the axis, which are devoted to Visnu.

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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PRE-DATES ANGKOR WAT
The temple was built in the 10th century. As such, it pre-dates Angkor Wat. It was in use at least until the fourteenth century according to the last known inscription dated Thursday, 8 August 1303 A.D.

ART THEFT lead to it’s RE-DISCOVERY
The temple was rediscovered only in 1914, and was the subject of a celebrated case of art theft when André Malraux stole four devatas in 1923. He was soon arrested and the figures returned. The incident stimulated interest in the site, which was cleared the following year.

ANATYLOSIS
In the 1930s Banteay Srei was restored through the first important use of anastylosis at Angkor, whereby a ruined building or monument is restored using the original architectural elements to the greatest degree possible. To prevent the site from water damage, the joint Cambodian-Swiss Banteay Srei Conservation Project installed a drainage system between 2000 and 2003.

 

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Banteay Srei is known as Jewel of Khmer Art – famous for delicate carvings on the walls. / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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JEWEL of KHMER ART

Banteay Srie is Jewel of Khmer Art. Banteay Srei is built largely of a hard red sandstone that can be carved like wood. Brick and laterite were used only for the enclosure walls and some structural elements. The temple is known for the beauty of its sandstone lintels and pediments.

Noteworthy decorative elements include:
the guardian dvarapala [protector of the temple],
devatas [demi goddesses],
the kala [toothy monster symbolic of time],
the false door and the colonette.

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Dvarapala [ guardians] of the temple / Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Dvarapala [ guardians] of the temple / Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Devata [female divinity] of the temple / Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Kala, toothy monster symbolic of time and of the god Shiva. / Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The false door and the colonette. / Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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The Angkorean temples frequently opened in only one direction, typically to the East. The other three sides featured fake or blind doors to maintain symmetry. Blind windows were often used along otherwise blank walls. In the above image, the blind door is flanked by colonettes. Above the door is a lintel, above which is a tympanum with a scene from the Mahabharata.

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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LINTEL, PEDIMENT and TYMPANUM

A lintel is a horizontal beam connecting two vertical columns between which runs a door or passageway. Because the Angkorean Khmer lacked the ability to construct a true arch, they constructed their passageways using lintels or corbelling. A pediment is a roughly triangular structure above a lintel. A tympanum is the decorated surface of a pediment.

At Benteay Srei, the pediments are relatively large compared to the openings below and take a sweeping gabled shape. For the first time in history of Khmer architecture whole scenes of mythological subject matters are depicted on the pediments.

Bas-reliefs in the tympana at Banteay Srei (10th century) …
the duel of the monkey princes Vali and Sugriva, and the intervention of the human hero Rama on behalf of the latter;
the duel of Bhima and Duryodhana at the Battle of Kurukshetra;
the Rakshasa king Ravana shaking Mount Kailasa, upon which sit Shiva and his Shakti;
Kama firing an arrow at Shiva as the latter sits on Mount Kailasa;
the burning of Khandava Forest by Agni and Indra’s attempt to extinguish the flames.

 

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The duel of the monkey princes Vali and Sugriva, and the intervention of the human hero Rama on behalf of the latter /Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The duel of Bhima and Duryodhana at the Battle of Kurukshetra. / Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The Rakshasa king Ravana shaking Mount Kailasa, upon which sit Shiva and his Shakti / Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The burning of Khandava Forest by Agni and Indra’s attempt to extinguish the flames./ Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Kama firing an arrow at Shiva as the latter sits on Mount Kailasa. /Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Shiva Nataraja / Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Kala, toothy monster symbolic of time and of the god Shiva. / Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Banteay Srei / Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

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