Reinhart's Blog

I like to take photographs of Khmer temples and note down their story.

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Angkor Discoveries

Today

  • Trapeang Phong, early 9th century, located c. 3 km south of Bakong.
  • Lolei, 893, located in the north of the Roluos Group.
  • Prasat Enkosei, 2nd half of 10th century, located in Wat Preah Enkosei, Siem Reap.
  • The oldest relief of the Churning of the Sea of Milk, at Prasat Enkosei.
  • At the eastern stairway of Pre Rup, 961, 2.5 km east of Ta Prom.
  • Arjuna in the mythical Battle of Kurukshetra; the charioteer is Krishna, with four Arms. At Baphuon, 2nd half of 11th century.
  • Prasat Suor Prat, about 1000. Twelve laterite towers framing the Grand Plaza of Angkor Thom at the east side.

   

  • Trapeang Phong
    Trapeang Phong
  • Ancestor Shrine at Lolei
    Ancestor Shrine at Lolei
  • Prasat Enkosei
    Prasat Enkosei
  • Reliefs at Prasat Enkosei
    Reliefs at Prasat Enkosei
  • Remains of a Lion, Pre Rup
    Remains of a Lion, Pre Rup
  • Battle Scene, Baphuon
    Battle Scene, Baphuon
  • Prasat Suor Prat, Angkor Thom
    Prasat Suor Prat, Angkor Thom

The Library Rumour

Some buildings in Angkor are called libraries. Don't ask why. Have a look on the photos and you will see that this are not "libraries" but shrines for burning offerings. That's why they are orientated to the central tower of the temple.

There is a real Library at Bagan, Myanmar. 

  • Fire Shrine Bakong
    Fire Shrine Bakong
  • Fire Shrine Bakong
    Fire Shrine Bakong
  • Fire Shrine Bakong
    Fire Shrine Bakong
  • Fire Shrine Bakong
    Fire Shrine Bakong
  • Library Bagan
    Library Bagan

About me

Reinhart in Angkor Wat
Reinhart in Angkor Wat

In October 2000, when all Cambodia was under water, I made my first 7-days visit to Angkor. I had not got any useful introduction and I was thoroughly disappointed.

Well, the next year, I had to instruct German-speaking tour guides in Angkor. (Poor guys, I could not teach them so much.)

Any introduction to the “Angkor Archaeological Park” must fail.

But Angkor is the site of an ancient capital, and the temples are to be presented in their historical, cultural and spatial context; that’s the only way of understanding and to make them living.

We can “read” the temples; they will tell us their story. We just need some background knowledge, no further introduction.

My work is focussing on a new introduction to Angkor.

The Trot or Trotti Dance

This morning, April 12, 2016, Khmer New Years Eve, Trotti dancers showed up at Sala Alemong, our house near Wat Preah An Kau Sa in Siem Reap.

In recent years Trot Dance is becoming popular at the Khmer New Year festival.

The word Trot is from Sanskrit meaning to end, in this case to end the previous year. Trot is a traditional dance performed in an ancient format believed to ward off bad luck from the previous year. It is usually performed before the New Year festival.

Trot is connected to a belief that wild animals that come into the village bring bad luck and misfortune. They created Trot which showcase wild animals, allowing villagers to spray perfume, put on makeup, and tie knots on the animals. Then they pray to the animals for good luck. This serves as prevention against bad luck when wild animals come into the village in the future.

There is also a belief that this dance symbolizes the prayer for rain. In this case, they prefer using the peacock tail to represent the sun. The people pray to the sun asking for rain for their farmlands.

Nowadays, the dance is usually found in Siem Reap and Battambang province. Eventually, additional characters were added--a singer performed as peacock and another singer performed as a spirit with long black nails.

Folktales

Trot is related to two folktales. The first folktale is about a hunter.

Once upon a time there was a hunter named Bun who lived with his wife name Ubma in Savchey district. One day, the hunter went to hunt as usual but he could not find a single animal. He thought that maybe the forest spirits prevented him from finding the animals, so he prepared an offering and prayer to spirits to help him find animals. Suddenly he came upon a golden deer with golden yellow fur and antlers made out of shiny precious stones. He then shot and killed the deer. Upon retrieving the animal, he realized how beautiful it was and decided to offer it to the king. The king was delighted with the gesture and granted the hunter a rank as the district head. Afterwards, Bun created the Trot dance as a remembrance by making offering to the spirit of the forest.

Another folktale is related to Buddhism. Before Buddha attained enlightenment, he first became a monk. As he was on his way, an evil appears as a golden deer blocks his path. Buddha started to pray to an angel. The angel came down and appeared as a hunter to kill the golden deer and accompanied Buddha on his way to becoming a monk

Performance

The front performer holds a kangcha which is a pole about 2.5 meters in height with the top portion shaped like a fork. The tips of the head are tied together by a string and decorated with dry fruit balls (Angkugn) with metal pieces inside which make noise when the pole is thumb on the ground. This performer provides the beat to the music with other musicians who use drums and two Tros (Tro Ou and Tro Saur - type of instruments used in classical Khmer music).

  • All performers start by first praying to the teachers.
  • The forest people come out running left and right in confusion outside the circle, typically in front of everyone else. Their bodies swing with the beat of the drum.
  • The hunter wears a banana trunk around his waist.
  • The person wearing the antlers represents the deer and dances in a similar fashion to the hunter and the forest people. His hands sometimes hold the antlers and sometimes hook to the front like the deer legs. He hops according to the beat swinging his head and sometimes run out of the circle.
  • The main character dancers wear colorful clothes and head dresses holding the tail of the peacock. The other two dancers dance very fluidly.
  • The girl with black nails helps to sing the song and also makes clicking sounds with her nails. The musicians with instruments swerve their bodies according to the beats.

The Trot song can be heard here: (http://www.cambodianview.com/audio/khmer-traditional-music-robamtrot.rm)

Another song with Trot style sang by Samouth Sin can be heard here: (KamplungLengTrot_Samouth.mp3).

Source: http://www.cam-cc.org/calendar/newyear_trot.php

 

Trotti Dancing 2017

A Dancing Male Figure at the Bakong

He is the oldest dancer in Angkor and male, late 9th century.

Female dancers, Apsaras, will show up att Angkor Wat only. Early 12th century.

I took this Photo in 2005, at a stairway of the pyramid, as I remember.

I have looked for it and could not find it again. Please help me and look around.

Dancing Figure, Bakong
Dancing Figure, Bakong

Symbols, Gestures and Fuss at Preah Vihear

Is there really a conflict?

Preah Vihear from south-west. Photo courtesy of Dave Taylor.
Preah Vihear from south-west. Photo courtesy of Dave Taylor.

Though its beauty and significance may be compared with Angkor Wat, Preah Vihear has got famous only as the point at issue of a continuous border conflict between Cambodia and Thailand.

The Forgotten History

King Suryavarman I (102-1049) started the temple and called it Shiva Shikhareshvara, Shiva the Lord of the Pinnacle.

It was to Shiva Shikhareshvara, to whom King Suryavarman I let the nobles in his service give an oath of loyalty in 1011. The text is engraved at the wall of the east gate of the Royal Palace in Angkor.

Preah Vihear became a symbol of the unity and power of the Khmer Empire. This symbol is now lost.

In Khmer eyes, the temple is a remnant of a religion that is now replaced by Buddhism. It is called Preah Vihear, “Holy [modern Buddhist] Temple”. (An ancient temple is called prasat.)

For Khmer people, a temple like Preah Vihear or Angkor Wat is just something that can make them proud.

The Thai Flag

The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled in 1962 that the Thais had to withdraw from the temple, what they did. 

Rather than lower the Thai national flag that had been flying at the temple, Thai soldiers dug up and removed the pole with it still flying. The pole was erected at nearby Mor I Daeng Cliff, where it is still in use.” (Wikipedia)

The general in command is quoted to have said: “There will be no lowering of the flag, for we will have it back in the near future.” – What a theatrically effective gesture!

There is no real intention to alter the border. The Thai government has not commended the action of the general. The threat serves its purpose. It’s a paper tiger, but it can help to justify military efforts.

The Spirit of Ta Di

But Khmer soldiers believe Thai troops will return.

They also believe that the spirit of Ta Di is defending Preah Vihear.

Poeuy Ta Di (“Promontory of Grandfather Di”) is the name of the highest point of the projecting cliff.

By the legend, Ta Di was the general of the Khmer army, which during a war was defeated and worn out by the Siamese. Grieved by the defeat and the loss of his soldiers, he killed himself, his wife and his children by jumping from the cliff.

The place has got his name; visitors pay respect to his spirit and offer to him in a small cave under the rock.

Ta Di is the local Neak Ta, the landlord of the temple.

A Conflict or a Fuss?

Reaping the benefits of the Preah Vihear issue are Cambodia’s army and government; they act the big shot as the defenders of the temple.

References

  • Khun Samén, Prasat Preah Vihear, 2008.
  • Sachchidanand Sahai, Preah Vihear An Introduction to the World Heritage Monument, 2009.
  • Wikipedia, Preah Vihear Temple.

Weblink

Prasat Tor

Der Tempel ist abgelegen; er steht hinter dem Östlichen Baray in der Ecke.

Zwei Türme, nach Osten orientiert, stehen neben einander. Vor dem größeren, südlichen steht ein Mandapa (ein Vorbau).

Es war mit dem Turm durch einen Gang verbunden, von dem noch Reste zu sehen sind.

Das Lintel des südlichen Turms zeigt Shiva über Kala. Kala, die absolute Zeit, die alles verschlingt, ist ein Kopf-Ungeheuer und ein schrecklicher Aspekt Shivas.

Der große Turm hat den gewöhnlichen, abgestuften Aufbau; aber der kleine hat ein altmodisches Tonnengewölbe.

Alles ist aus Laterit gebaut, nur die Tore sind aus Sandstein.

Gebaut wurde der Tempel vielleicht im späten 9. Jahrhundert.

Prasat Tor ist schön gelegen und deshalb einen Besuch wert. In der Nähe steht auf dem Damm des Baray die Ruine eines Stelen-Gehäuses. (Eine Stele ist ein Inschriften-Stein.)

Prasat Tor von Osten. Luftbild mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Dave Taylor.

  • Prasat Tor, Luftbild
    Prasat Tor, Luftbild
  • Prasat Tor von Westen
    Prasat Tor von Westen
  • Prasat Tor, Südost-Ecke
    Prasat Tor, Südost-Ecke
  • Prasat Tor, Lintel
    Prasat Tor, Lintel
  • Prasat Tor, Sued-Turm von Nordosten
    Prasat Tor, Sued-Turm von Nordosten
  • Prasat Tor, Blick von Nord-Osten
    Prasat Tor, Blick von Nord-Osten
  • Prasat Tor, Mandapa
    Prasat Tor, Mandapa
  • Stele am Oestlichen Baray
    Stele am Oestlichen Baray
  • Neak-Ta-Schrein bei Prasat Tor
    Neak-Ta-Schrein bei Prasat Tor