Friday, February 13, 2009

Temple X revealed

Temple X and its 40 Buddhas
A week ago I promised more photos from Temple X (aka Monument 483), the temple within the Preah Pithu group of Angkor Thom which is bedecked with Buddhist iconography whilst the other four shrines at the site are decorated in more traditional Hindu-inspired motifs and reliefs. The inner walls of Temple X house a very unique series of seated Buddha carvings, forty of them in total, which renowned scholar Claude Jacques suggests that the temple was built, or certainly partially decorated in the 14th century. All of the Buddhas are posed in the same seated stance and are shown in the attitude of Calling The Earth to Witness, relating to the moment of enlightenment of Buddha. The legs are crossed, the left hand is in the lap of Buddha and the right hand is pointing to the ground with the palm facing inward. It relates to how the Buddha meditated all night to overcome the fears and temptations sent by the demon Mara. Instead, the Buddha called the Earth Goddess to witness that the Buddha achieved enlightenment in order to share with the rest of the world. Witnessing that, the Earth Goddess wrang her hair, releasing flood waters that swept away the demon Mara and all the temptresses he had released. It was that easy.
Two rows of Buddhas line the inner sanctuary walls at Temple X
A corner niche of Buddhas with a small amount of vegetation
The bottom row of Buddhas are slightly larger than the top row
Some of the individual Buddha carvings are quite simple
At the left hand side of the rows of Buddhas are two kneeling worshippers
Parts of the inner wall of Temple X display differing colours of the sandstone, due to weathering over the centuries
The roof is open to the elements allowing the sun to highlight the carvings
The final set of 13 of the total of 40 Buddhas of Temple X
A weathered lintel inside one of the chambers shows a row of seated Buddha figures in various poses
In a side chamber of Temple X, a linga stands upright without its yoni

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