Around the World in 80 Treasures: Angkor, Cambodia

This is an excerpt from the series Around the World in 80 Treasures. This segment covers Treasure 23 – Angkor Wat, the largest temple at the sacred site of Angkor. The sprawling archaeological treasure trove stretches 250 square miles of jungle in the center of Cambodia.

The themes of the continuous reliefs at Angkor Wat are taken from Hindu epics. Particularly noteworthy are the battle scenes from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. At Angkor Wat the great battle between the forces of the demon-king and the cohorts of the monkey general is depicted with enormous verve in a monumental composition.

In this temple, Vishnu’s heaven, he was depicted as merciful and compassionate, despite his mighty power. Deep in cosmic sleep, he creates a new world. His great deeds of chivalry were described in the Mahabharata and handed down from generation to generation. They provided the sculptors of Angkor Wat with subject matter as well as inspiration for their sandstone canvases.

The next segment covers Treasure 24 – The Stone Faces of Bayon at Angkor Thom.

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