Saturday, December 1, 2012

2012, Day 335 - Benevolence

This is Bayon, the temple at the center of King Jayavarman VII's capital.  Built in the 12th century, Bayon is known for the serene smiling faces that adorn the towers.  Some scholars believe that the faces may be those of Jayavarman himself as it would not have been unusual for the king to be given a divine status; other scholars have suggested that the faces represent the Bodhisattva of compassion.  It was the last temple to be built in Angkor and was, when constructed, almost entirely Buddhist although it has since been modified by later Hindu and Buddhist monarchs.

This was the first temple we visited at the Angkor complex.  Araceli and I arrived in Siem Reap at about noon while Brian and Nicole had arrived the day prior.  Mr. Mony did not allow us to waste and he picked us up in the afternoon, took us to buy our temple passes, and then we went straight to Angkor Thom and this magnificent temple.  This is taken from one of the courtyards outside the temple proper and here you can see the entrance and the lichen covered faces looking benevolently out in the four cardinal directions.  Near the stairs to the main entrance you can see a member of the temple security staff walking away which may help to give you a sense of scale.  While Bayon is not a large temple it is still a huge structure composed of thousands of carefully laid stone blocks that have endured for almost nine centuries.

The smiling faces that adorn the towers really do give Bayon a warm inviting feeling.  It suggests that all are welcome and it was an amazing way to be initiated into the majesty of Angkor.

Canon 1D X, Canon 24-70/f2.8L Mark II
24mm, f5.6, merged layers of 1/100, 1/25, and 1/13 sec @ 100 ISO

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