Monday, December 28, 2009

Faces of Phimai

This rishi, or wise man, at Prasat Phimai has a large head and much smaller body by comparison; he almost looks like an elf
Here are a gallery of faces you can find at Prasat Phimai in Isaan in northeast Thailand, if you divert your attention to the foot of the doorways. Whilst most people, including myself, concentrate on the lintels and pediments above the doorway, there are some lovely carvings to be found at ground level too. One of the consistent decorative features that adorn the doorways are the sculpted cavings at the base of the colonettes and pilasters that form the side panels to the doorframes. It is believed that these carvings on the pilasters began at Phimai at the end of the 11th century before spreading to the temples at Angkor. Of course the representation of rishis, or wise men, at the foot of the circular colonettes can also be seen widely throughout Angkor, especially at Angkor Wat. Here are a few examples from Prasat Phimai.
A fierce-looking half man half animal figure, maybe a yaksha guardian, is on the base of this red sandstone colonette
At Phimai, the carving of Vajrasattva dancing on a corpse is seen for the first time in Khmer art. This one is on a pilaster on the central sanctuary.
This colonette carving also shows a woman yogini dancing on a corpse whilst holding a vajra, a bolt of lightning, and a bell
This pilaster contains a much less vivid picture of a monkey holding what looks like the tail of an animal
This pilaster carving of a woman is next to a broken colonette
Two weather-worn rishis occupy the base panels of this colonette at Phimai
A traditional cross-legged pose for the rishi, a Hindu sage or seer
An exaggerated head and lips give this rishi an unusual appearance
Another rishi, dispensing wise words to his disciples whilst holding onto his beard
Another old man, not so wise and with no beard, takes a seat in a window at Prasat Phimai

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Blogger oasisresort said...

Andy,can you sms your number to me as ive lost it and hanknee wants to speak to you to arrange as he has to go on a course and wont be there for your customers but wants to arrange a alternative,jason.

December 28, 2009 at 6:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"prasat phimai" is what the thia call this temple, but what is the real actual khmer name of this temple? do you know Andy?

December 28, 2009 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

I believe it was called Vimayapura and later became Phimai. But I don't have my books of reference with me right now.

December 28, 2009 at 5:18 PM  

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