Friday, December 25, 2009

The inside story

In what looks like red sandstone reminiscent of Banteay Srei,Trailokyavijaya, who is mentioned in the temple's inscription, is the central figure and was the general of the Lord of Phimai
Without the right type of camera equipment, shooting inside the main tower at Prasat Phimai and internally in other buildings, can leave you disappointed. Quite a few of my pictures taken on my recent trip to NE Thailand and the temple city of Phimai, fall into this category. Here are a few of my better indoor shots of the lintels on display in the central sanctuary but quite a few others didn't come out. Inside the tower there's no natural light, but if I use flash then the stonework is washed out and the detail is lost. If I cut the flash then I find the focus isn't as clear and any slight movement and the picture is worthless. I could get a better camera of course but I'm happy with my Sony cyber-shot most of the time and it is so easy and convenient to carry. So I guess I'll just put up and shut up. As for the lintels, Phimai, built from the end of the 11th century, is awash with them, which is great for people like me who love these mini-stories. Without experts like Vittorio Roveda and his Images of the Gods book, then most of them would be pretty meaningless but Vittorio has spent his career deciphering the iconography on Khmer temples and his detailed descriptions are invaluable in understanding what we are looking at.
The Battle of Lanka, on the southern inner doorway, is a popular theme and shows Rama on the shoulders of Hanuman, fighting his sworn enemy who is atop a chariot
The above lintel shows Vajrasattva seated on a plinth with 3 heads and 6 arms and surrounded by four Buddhas and dancing girls. This is the inner lintel at the north entrance.
This west-facing lintel shows Buddha dressed in a long robe standing between two trees in the upper register, surrounded by worshippers. In the bottom register, three dancing girls in the center are accompanied by musicians.
On the eastern inner lintel, the all powerful Trailokyavijaya is seen alongside ten seated Buddhas and eight dancers in the lower register. He has 3 heads and 8 arms.
This is a frontal view of the diety, Trailokyavijaya, dancing on an elephant skin, who is also shown on the walls of Angkor Wat and is therefore a very important figure

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