Thursday, February 5, 2009

Temple 482 = Temple U

This lively lintel has the multi-armed dancing Shiva, accompanied by Vishnu and Brahma, as well as two lions being devoured by a fiercesome kala
Sat in a quiet corner of Angkor Thom, though they are better known by their letters, the five shrines at Preah Pithu also have numbers designated to them. Temple U for example is Temple 482, whilst Temple T is 481. Located behind Temple T and surrounded by a moat, Temple U has a wealth of carvings to keep you occupied for half an hour. The sanctuary, on a high base, has male guardian figures, dvarapalas, as well as female devatas in niches at the corners, in varying states of disrepair, as well as three lintels showing three very different stories. There's the Churning of the Sea of Milk, there's a lively scene of a dancing Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma trio on top of a kala head and an unfinished lintel that might be Krishna lifting Mount Govardhana above a grinning kala. As I stood at the top of Temple U I noticed a couple of Apsara guards amongst the trees surrounding the temple, enjoying a crafty cigarette, the first people I'd seen since I entered the complex.
Temple U in shade taken from the southeast corner
A broken fragment of a god lying on the ground
Two worshippers pay their respects to a re-designed linga on a plinth
The Churning of the Sea of Milk lintel facing north
Vishnu is the central character here, sitting on the giant naga being pulled by gods (left) and demons (right). Below Vishnu a tiny elephant and a horse are featured.
The full Shiva dancing lintel in situ on the west side, a lively central theme then a more sedate floral pattern towards the ends
On the right is a dvarapala guardian and behind are two devatas, one of which has been unsuccessfully hacked away by thieves
This voluptuous devata is incomplete, as her lower half is missing

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