My recent trip to the temples in Angkor Thom has given me a good remembrance from the Buddha portrait carving. In particularly, the reassuring Bayon smile is mysterious, yet ever beautiful to be seen in life.
The 3-hour tour kicked off from the Terrace of the Leper King, which is located at the Northwest corner of the Royal Square of Angkor Thom. It was an adventure of exploring this ancient place dated from late 12th centuries.
Terrace of the Leper King was built by Jayavarman VII. Sitting on top of the terrace is the statue of The Leper King. Khmer lore indicates that the statue resemble king Jayavarman VII; the Khmer ruler who died of leprosy.
Beside the statue of the Leper King, the amazing terrace wall takes you from the stone carvings of the outer wall perimeter to the inner narrow ‘trench’ of the terrace. Both high defensive walls are covered with bas-reliefs sculptures. Intricate portraits on small figures of Apsara and Devatas, carved by low-technology tools and labor-intensive workers in the early century.
The inner wall is initially built and was filled with earth, before the outer wall was added. Since late 1990s, the French archaeologists has discovered and excavated the inner region. Interestingly, no apparent explanation has been found to unfold the intention for building two separated walls.
Every portraits and figures on the bas-relief has the common smile, similar to the Buddha statues in The Bayon. Limestone slate are perfectly laid on the vertical wall. Bewildered by the aesthetically beauty on every smile of the entire wall.
You will be astounded with awe, upon the entrance to the inner wall. The question is: Has every portrait smile actually appeal to the interest of viewers? Or the mysteriously sculptured figures and their posture that makes the entirety unique? What attribute to a perfect portrait; the smile or the posture?
Below sharing some of the portrait snapshots from Terrace of Leper King. As you can see some figures with raised eye-brow are captured with the smile, yet there do not portrayed with an angered face.
P.S: I have to apologize on the poor quality of the photos from my mobile phone. Partly, due to batteries went flat half way of the tour. Having said that, one advice is to bring additional batteries for your camera; Angkor Thom is part of the area among many temples in Siem Reap.