Monday, December 28, 2009
This rishi, or wise man, at Prasat Phimai has a large head and much smaller body by comparison; he almost looks like an elfHere 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