Carvings and bas-relief decorate the walls and surfaces of many of the temples that make up the Angkor Wat complex. The figure in the center is this wall art is the Hindu deity Shiva – I am pretty sure I have this right – and the figure below Shiva is a Garuda, a mythical bird that helps to protect the god. Not as certain I have that last part right. The photo was taken at Banteay Srei, a 10th century Khmer temple dedicated to Shiva. The carving pictured here is small and highly detailed, part of a larger section of wall. I had the camera up close to the wall and would guess the real-world dimensions of the artwork in this photo are roughly 15 by 10 inches (40 by 25 centimeters).
The Bayon temple, part of the enormous Angkor Wat temple area in Cambodia, has numerous faces of the Buddha carved into the temple’s towers. The best known of these is a smiling Buddha face. I tried to get a photo of that one, but it was surrounded by a large group of Chinese tourists taking photos in front of the face one or two at a time. I gave up and decided I could live with some shots of lesser known carvings.
Brother Phil and I arrived last night in Siem Reap and spent our first day visiting temples. This is the Bayon temple at Angkor Thom, a large area enclosed by a moat that was established in the 12th century and served as the capital city of the Khmer empire of the time. I learned a great deal today – more than I could absorb really – about the tensions between Hinduism and Buddhism that characterized much of the history of the Khmer civilization and are reflected in the construction of temples like this one and the sculptures and bas-relief carvings that decorate the temples. This trip is a short visit (three and a half days) to an area filled with ancient temples and ruins – enough time to get little more than a taste. And of course, some of that time will go to shooting photos.
Sainte-Chapelle is within the palace area where French kings lived until the 14th on the Île de la Cité in the heart of historical Paris. Completed in 1248, the gothic church is famous for its collection of 13th century stained-glass windows. It is an absolutely beautiful place. I posted some images of the chapel right after my visit three weeks ago. Here are a couple of more to go with the other images.
Buddhist pagodas in Vietnam bear a resemblance to pagodas in China with one significant difference – the dragons decorating the roof tops. Virtually every pagoda in Vietnam has dragon decorations on the roof tops; they give Vietnamese pagodas their distinctive style. As far as I know, Buddhist temples elsewhere have nothing comparable. Late afternoon light on a crystal clear day has the roof top dragons at this small temple almost glowing. The Chinese characters say something like “golden hall of the ancestors”, but I am not sure of the Vietnamese name of this Da Nang pagoda.
A friend visiting from Thailand and I took a day trip to My Son, a UNESCO world heritage site about 80 km south of Da Nang. My Son was an important temple complex of the Champa Kingdom that existed in central and southern Vietnam from roughly 300 to 1700 CE. The Cham civilization was Indianized and the temples at My Son celebrate Hindu deities. For many years the Cham and the Vietnamese moving south from the area surrounding modern Hanoi contested the central part of what is now Vietnam. The Vietnamese eventually prevailed and the Champa Kingdom disappeared. The Cham people were assimilated into Vietnamese society, influencing the development of Vietnamese culture in the process. The temple pictured is one of a group of structures built in the 11th to 13th centuries CE.