Thursday, October 30, 2008

Uniquely Sambor

Tower N7 in the northern group, known as the Prasat Sambor group, has a wealth of interesting and quite well preserved flying palaces
The flying palaces of Sambor Prei Kuk deserve a few more pictures to highlight this unique decorative feature of the brick-built temples of the 7th century. So Sokuntheary, a Khmer-born archaeologist who has worked extensively at Angkor and Sambor as part of a team from Japan's Waseda University, joined our recent visit to Sambor and told us that 288 separate temples had been identified in the area, ranging from the larger structures such as Prasat Tao to small mounds of broken bricks. Under the guidance of Waseda, more excavations are currently taking place and new discoveries are being made to further enhance the reservoir of knowledge about this former capital city of the Chenla empire. The central characters in the palaces are likely deities or royalty and it looks to me that a male figure is usually the central character, flanked by two female attendants or wives though the passage of time has weathered the brick carving to make it difficult for my untrained eye to see. At the foot of the palaces are mythical creatures supporting the palace facade. All very unique though I have seen versions of flying palaces at other locations such at Phnom Bayang close to the Vietnam border in southern Cambodia.
Three deities in the central part of the flying palace, looking out of windows at N7
Four faces surround a central figure in the arched upper register of this flying palace on N7
Winged horses and mythical figures adorn the lower register of the flying palace at N7
A flying palace on the wall of tower N15 has deities and outward-facing makaras on the upper register
Three of five female figures that are shown in full-length on the middle register of tower N15
On the upper register of N15 it looks like a king is surrounded by attendants and outward-facing sea monsters, which are also found on lintels of that era


Anonymous Anonymous said...

An impressive display of carvings, thanks for sharing. By the way, have you ever heard that there's an unexploded bomb inside one of the main sanctuaries at Sambor? You know which one is it? I've heard say that Sambor was a staging area for the KR during the civil war and was targeted by American war planes.
Regards, Francis

October 30, 2008 at 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My guide to SPK told the same story when I've been there back in 2003! He said an American plane scored a direct hit against the brick tower S10 (the first one pictured in the previous blog "Flying Palaces"), only the bomb didnĀ“t explode! And it's still there, according to him, because its removal was considered a serious threat to the monument. No danger to tourists, he said. I'm not convinced... - Sandra Kogut

October 31, 2008 at 2:56 AM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Sambor Prei Kuk was hit during US bomb raids I'm reliably informed and a direct hit on Prasat Sambor itself caused a lot of damage. I must admit I'd never heard of a live bomb at the site and would suggest that's a fanciful tale - it's not something the authorities would allow, though it makes for a good one-liner story for the tourists.

October 31, 2008 at 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pls allow me to entertain some doubts on the subject of Sambor. Prasat Sambor (S10) is not that big, I mean, it stands no comparison with later Angkorian temples in terms of sheer size. If it took a direct hit and is still standing, it's most likely that the bomb didn't explode and is buried deep inside the sanctuary. Otherwise, it would have crumbled, like in My Son, or Indrapura, capital of Champa, in central Vietnam, bombed by the Americans during the 2nd. Indochina War. Removal of the bomb would have inevitably caused cave in of the building, that's why it was avoided. To see how an unexploded bomb of 1000 pounds can remain buried deep inside the earth and cause no damage - at least, for the time being - check the trailer of BOMBHUNTERS to which your blog provided a link. Sorry to dissent, but the argument that "it's not something the authorities would allow" doesn't apply to Cambodia.
Regards, Francis

November 1, 2008 at 1:48 AM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Dissent is good. However I seriously doubt that even the Cambodian authorities would be so irresponsible as to leave a bomb buried inside one of the towers at Sambor. The site has been open to tourists for a few years now - I first went there 9 years ago - and as old ordnance is known to be unsafe, then I tend to believe that no-one in their right mind would put foreign visitors at risk like that.
I have contacts at Sambor so I will ask them to confirm one way or the other. I hope for the sake of tourists visiting the temple complex that I am right. I think its a line intended to titillate tourists.

November 1, 2008 at 2:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Andy. I too hope you're right. I've been to Sambor a couple of times and expect to return again, safely, to that extraordinary place. --- Francis

November 2, 2008 at 7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures from Sambor the first capital city of the Khmer royal family of Sorvong (Sun).

Thank you.

March 5, 2009 at 8:34 AM  

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