Monday, January 26, 2009

Demon faces

The face of a demon, an Asura at the South Gate of Angkor Thom
How about a few more ancient faces, notably from the latter part of the 12th century and who currently reside at the South Gate of Angkor Thom. All of these belong to the Asuras, commonly known as demons and who dominate the causeway and bridge on the right-hand side as you approach the gate on arrival at the great city. They are easily recognisable by their grimace, their elaborate crown and bulbous eyes as they grip the naga in their cosmic tug of war with their sworn enemies, the gods, as the myth of the Churning of the Sea of Milk is played out in all its glory. There are 54 of them in total, an identical number to the gods, who line up in similar formation on the left-hand side of the causeway. The South Gate is the most popular, and most photographed, as the sculptures here have been extensively restored, though many of the heads are replicas rather than the originals, the majority of which have mysteriously taken flight. At the end of the row of demons, nearest to the gate itself, is the multi-headed demon ruler Ravana holding the head of the naga, Vasuki. Well, that's what the experts would tell us and who am I to argue. The overall scene crowned by the magnificent South Gate itself makes a great way to enter Angkor Thom and I never tire of passing through this glorious entrance into the city.
The lack of eyes and a broken nose make this demon appear even more fierce
An elaborate feathered headpiece for this chubby looking demonThe bulbous eyes and downturned mouth are typical features of Asuras
This demon looks almost distasteful in his pose
The multi-headed demon king, Ravana, occupies the final spot before the gate itself
Detail of the feet of a demon, pointing in different directions!
This is the top of the demon's sampot and belt, finely carved in all its detail

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