Cambodian Architecture: Eighth to Thirteenth Centuries

By Jacques Dumarçay; Pascal Royere et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
PHNOM BAKHENG

When the decision was made to shift the seat of power from Roluos to Angkor, as seen in the previous chapter, the site was already fairly densely occupied: Phimeanakas, Ak Yom and Kutisvara, to cite only the most important monuments, were already in existence. The laying out of the Eastern Baray was only possible at the expense of the Kutisvara temple, whose land was severely reduced in size. It was difficult to do otherwise, because of the two main watercourses which fed the new reservoir, the Siemreap River, which reached the baray at the centre of the northern dyke, and the small stream O To, which reached it at its north-east corner. At the four corners of the first laying-out of this vast reservoir, King Yasovarman had a stele erected attributing its construction to himself, but given the extent of these works it is more likely mat he merely completed what had been begun by his predecessor Indravarman. The same is true for Phnom Bakheng: given the extent of the preliminary work involved, it must also have been started by Indravarman before the reign of Yasovarman, who however claimed to have ordered its construction.

The temple of Phnom Bakheng1 (fig. 49, pl. 19) is constructed on a small volcanic hill composed of riolite which is slightly eroded on the surface. On many parts of its slopes, the riolite has decomposed to form a particularly fertile clay which adds to the contrast between the structure at the summit and its surroundings. The laying out was accomplished on this difficult surface according to a plan which, for the central part, is very similar to that of the Bakong at Roluos, but the difficulties were not the same. The first task was to level the rock over the whole surface, while keeping the volume for the superstructures; in this way the central pyramid up to the fourth terrace is not built on infill as is the case elsewhere, but placed straight onto the rock. The levelled rock around the central structure was evident, but where the rock was in too poor a condition it was cut away and replaced by slabs, of which only indications remain. Where possi-

1 Phnom Bakheng was the object of a monograph, J. Dumarçay, Phnom Bakheng,
étude architecturale du temple
, Mémoires archéologiques VII, Paris, EFEO, 1972.

-55-

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Cambodian Architecture: Eighth to Thirteenth Centuries
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • List of Figures 1 ix
  • List of Photographs 1 xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • Part One - The Limitations Imposed on Builders 1
  • Chapter One - The Economic Constraints 3
  • Chapter Two - Khmer Construction Techniques 10
  • Chapter Three - The Architectural Project 18
  • Chapter Four - The Architectural Decoration 27
  • Chapter Five - The Constraints of the Site 32
  • Part Two - The Buildings Proper 37
  • Chapter One - Pre-Angkorean Architecture 39
  • Chapter Two - The Ninth Century: Roluos 48
  • Chapter Three - Phnom Bakheng 55
  • Chapter Four - Pre Rup and Ta Keo 63
  • Chapter Five - The Bapuon 71
  • Chapter Six - Angkor Wat 80
  • Chapter Seven - Architecture in the Reign of Jayavarman VII 90
  • Chapter Eight - Wooden Architecture of the Thirteenth Century 101
  • Conclusion 109
  • Chronology 1 113
  • Select Bibliography 115
  • Index 119
  • Figures 1 - 1–104 *
  • Photographs 1 - 1–44 *
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