Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bring me his head

Severed heads as 12th century war trophies as seen on the southern gallery at Banteay Chhmar
War can be gruesome especially back in the 12th century when these bas-reliefs were carved onto the walls of the Banteay Chhmar temple in northwest Cambodia. Trophies were sought in the form of collecting weaponry and clothing that belonged to your defeated enemy but it also included presenting the heads of your opponents to your commanders as evidence of your success in battle. That's exactly what is happening on this section of wall, on the western wing of the southern gallery, where two severed heads are being held aloft. However, the heads of the figures appear to be Khmer and the most likely explanation for this is that they are the heads of renegade Khmer leaders who dared to oppose the King in a civil war, rather than as part of the great battles fought against the Chams. However, the bas-reliefs also show that some Khmers fought on the side of the Chams and vice versa, so without further confirmation, it remains a debate to be had between scholars.
Two severed heads are held aloft by kneeling figures who are presenting them to Khmer commanders following the conclusion of a successful battle



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