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April 21, 2019

The Bayon of Angkor Thom: An Architectural Model of Buddhist Cosmology

Thomas M. Shelby


            The site of Angkor, located in northern Cambodia, is the ancient capital of an ancient civilization that flourished from the ninth through the fifteenth centuries.  It is one of the most recognized archaeological and artistic center in southeast Asia.  It has endured constant warfare, the jungle, and modern pillaging and vandalism.  Fortunately, Angkor has been extensively studied over the last century by French scholars and meticulously conserved and restored wherever possible.1  Angkor is actually an area that contains an extensive number of individual structures and monuments, the most notable precincts being Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.  It is in the latter precinct where the Bayon is found, which is considered one of the crowning achievements of Angkor architecture.  The Bayon is the primary Buddhist structure at Angkor, and was the architectural embodiment of the Buddhist concept of the

Universe.  This concept will be explored in this paper.

Geographical and Historical Context

            The site of Angkor is located in northern Cambodia (Figure 1)2 within a broad fertile plain.  It is situated to the northeast of the Tonle Sap, or Great Lake, and is bisected by the Siem Reap River.  Both of the preceding bodies of water flows into the Mekong River.  The modern town of Siem Reap is nearby and serves as the modern gateway to Angkor.  The climate is tropical, with dense jungle growth and a heavy annual rainfall.  Most of the agricultural system is based on rice, which in turn is dependent on extensive irrigation systems.  

            Angkor (Figure 2) served as the capital of the Khmer civilization from the ninth century through the fifteenth centuries, A.D.  It was abandoned due to increasing attacks and a subsequent invasion by the Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya, and the Khmer capital was moved to Phnom Penh.  Details of the pre-Khmer period are known only through some Chinese diplomatic accounts and archaeological excavations.  It appears that there were two kingdoms, or principalities, in the region, known as Funan and Zhenla.  Both of these states

were Indianized, and both had control over a number of smaller principalities.3

            The Khmer Empire was founded by Jayavarman II around ca.790.  He was able to unite a number of principalities and break away from Javanese rule, and in 802 was consecrated as the “universal monarch.”  Under several succeeding monarchs, the centralized political and religious foundations of the state were fully developed.  These included extensive irrigation projects and temple architecture, such as the six stuccoed brick towers of Preah Ko, consecrated in 879.  It was built by Indravarman (877-889) in homage to his imperial predecessors, and contained an image of Śiva.4

            Indravarman’s successor, Yaśovarman (889-ca.910), was responsible for the first constructions at Angkor.  These consisted of four brick and stucco towers at Lolei, located on an island in the center of a reservoir called Harihalaya, and a series of dikes that formed the eastern baray.5  At Phnom Bakheng, the center of his new capital, was built a pyramid with five terraces and 109 sanctuary towers.  This was an architectural model of Mt. Meru, which

according to Indian cosmology, is the center of the universe and home of Indra and the gods.6             Angkor was abandoned for about twenty years after 928, when Jayavarman IV became monarch and moved his capital to Koh Ker.  His successor Rājendravarman (944968) returned the capital to Angkor, where he built two temple mountains: the East Mebon and Pre Rup.  His successor, Jayavarman V (968-1001) built one of the most famous temples at Angkor, the Banteay Srei.  Following his reign, two kings were trying to gain power over the Khmer Empire which resulted in a civil war.  Sūryavarman I (1002-1050) succeeded to the throne and founded a new royal line.  Little was built at Angkor during this time, except for the unfinished temple mountain of Ta Keo.  Either he or his successor, Udayādityavarman II (1050-1066), was responsible for the western baray.It was also during this time that the great temple mountain of the Baphoun was initiated.8

            During the reign of Harsavarman III (1066-1080) Cambodia was defeated in a war against Champa, and smaller revolts were occurring within the country itself.  A new royal line was established by Jayavarman VI in 1080, and built the temple of Phimai.  Under

Sūryavarman II (1113-1145), Cambodia warred with and defeated the Champa and the Dai Viet9 and was responsible for the construction of the temple mountain of Angkor Wat and other, smaller shrines such as Beng Mealea, Banteay Samre, and portions of the Preah Pithu


            The last great king of the Khmers was Jayavarman VII (1181-1218).  When he was young he had fought in Champa, witnessed the king be ousted by an usurper, and Cambodia invaded by Champa and Angkor occupied.  For four years he rallied the people and drove the

Chams from Cambodia.  In 1181 he became king and defeated and occupied Champa. 

During his reign the Khmer Empire reached its greatest territorial extent and power.  Jayavarman VII was a Buddhist, and made Mahāyāna Buddhism the state religion.  Prior to this the rulers were Hindu, and monuments were Hindu in orientation.  The monuments built by Jayavarman VII adhere to a distinct style and iconography, and include Angkor Thom and the Bayon, Banteay Kdei, Ta Prohm, and Preah Khan.11   

            Following his reign, the neighboring Thai had freed themselves from Khmer rule, and in turn threatened a weaker Cambodia.  Angkor was captured by the Thais a number of times, and was finally abandoned in 1431 and the capital reestablished at Phnom Penh, located in southern Cambodia.  Cambodia also came under increasing attack from the Vietnamese.  However, Cambodia largely came under the cultural influence of Thailand, and this is evident in the art.12  The Middle Period of Cambodian history consists of a succession of kings, though not as grand or powerful as the Angkor dynasties.  This period is marked by a lack of monuments and stone statuary, as artistic media changed during this time coupled with a decrease in production.  This Middle Period has largely been ignored, as studies of

Cambodian history have centered on the Khmer civilization of Angkor and the modern

Khmer of the 1970s.13  

            Soon after the abandonment of Angkor, the monuments and temples were quickly reclaimed by the dense jungle growth.  Some of the later rulers of the sixteenth century would erect statues or repair some of the temples.  However, all of this work was on a minor scale.  Much of this reinvestment at Angkor consisted of the consecration and reworking of the predominantly Hindu monuments and temples to Buddhist temples and statues.  Angkor then, for the most part, disappears from Chinese and European14 accounts around the sixteenth century.  In 1858 Angkor was rediscovered by the French botanist Henri Mouhot.  After exploration by a number of scholars and travelers, interest was awakened in Angkor in the west, especially in France.  The site of Angkor has since been extensively studied, documented, and restored by the Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient.15   

            In 1970 Prince Sihanouk was overthrown and war broke out within Cambodia, culminating with the horrors of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s.  The Ecole Française withdrew from Cambodia, and many Angkor monuments were damaged and looted.  Many Khmer pieces have made their way into the international art market since, and looting continues to this day.  Even though stability has returned to the region, there is very little the government can do to stop the removal of antiquities from the large and sprawling site of Angkor.16 

Religion at Angkor

            The success of the Khmer rulers was of course dependent on the sanction of the state religion and the piety of the rulers themselves.  Throughout the history of Angkor, almost all of the Khmer rulers were Hindu.  The basis of Hinduism was the Trinity of gods, namely Brahma, Vishnu, and Śiva.  At Angkor, the Khmer rulers adhered to a particular divinity, either Śivaism or Vishnuism.  These cults seemed to alternate in popularity among the different rulers.  Interestingly, a form of syncretism took place in Cambodia between Śivaism and Vishnuism, and between Śivaism and Buddhism.17  

At the core of Cambodian Hinduism is the concept of devarāja.  The translation of the Sanskrit and Khmer equivalent means “god-king.”  In essence, the ruler of Cambodia became an incarnation of a portion of Śiva, and that the ruler was an earthly reflection of the heavenly king Indra, who was the king of the gods.18  Many of the monuments and temples at Angkor are Hindu in orientation, though with some Buddhist elements incorporated into the artistic programs.  

Buddhism arrived in Cambodia at a very early date, perhaps even pre-dating the arrival of Hinduism.19  Hinayana Buddhism first arrived in Cambodia in the third century A.D.  An inscription from 791 provides evidence for the practice of Mahāyāna Buddhism, which tells of the erection of an image of Lokésvara.20  For the most part, Hinduism was the dominant religion, although Buddhism was syncretized extensively.  Many monuments contain both Hindu and Buddhist themes and representations, and in some cases inscriptions share elements of the two religions.  

Buddhism became the state religion under the reign of Jayavarman VII, who was a devout Buddhist of the Mahāyāna school.  Among the many monuments he commissioned, his greatest is the Bayon.  Although all the local cults of Hinduism and Buddhism were united at this temple, serving as a pantheon of sorts, the Bayon was conceived as primarily a Buddhist temple.21  After the fall of the Khmer, Hinayana Buddhism became the state

religion as a result of the influence of Thailand.22

Angkor Thom

            Angkor Thom was the last of the royal capitals.  Work began immediately after Jayavarman VII drove out the Cham invaders in 1181.  The basic components consist of a city wall with gates, the Bayon at the center of the complex, and the Royal Square and Palaces.  Jayavarman wanted to build a capital that would demonstrate he was truly a universal ruler, and one that would resemble the capital of Indra.  This latter capital was meant to parallel Jayavarman with Indra, a king who would rule over other kings just as Indra ruled over the Thirty-three gods.  Jayavarman’s capital was to be the center of the kingdom, again paralleling Indra’s capital being at the summit of Mt. Meru.23

            Angkor Thom represents a three dimensional embodiment of Buddhist cosmology, and exhibits extensive knowledge of Buddhist texts.  Texts clearly indicate that Angkor

Thom is the city of Indra and the Thirty-three gods, complete with a royal palace, parks, an Assembly Hall of the Gods (the Bayon), and the enclosing walls.  The latter element is especially important, as the invasion of the Chams by a surprise attack parallels the attack of Indra’s capital by demons (asura), the subsequent triumph of Indra, and fortification of that capital.  Much of this parallelism is reflected in the symbolism of the gateways at the capital.24  

            Khmer temples were aligned to the cardinal points, and many ancient texts stipulate temple architecture has to conform to religious standards and be in harmony with the universe.  It must also be related to the motion of heavenly bodies.  Therefore, Khmer

temples were “spiritual, political, cosmological, and astronomical or geophysical temples.”25   The city walls of Angkor Thom form an almost perfect square, each side being approximately 3 kilometers in length and 8 meters high.  There is a small temple at each corner, and there are five monumental gates.  Two of these gates are in the east wall, with the others being a single entrance on the other three sides.  The two east wall gates are known as the Gate of the Dead, axially aligned with the Bayon, and the Gate of Victories, axially aligned with the Royal Palace.  A causeway, flanked by a row of 54 giant guardian figures, spans the moat and ditches that surround the enclosure.  The gateways are approximately 23 meters tall and 3.5 meters wide and are crowned with four heads representing deities that are thought to represent the Guardians of the Four Quarters.  Two heads are placed on a central tower, while the other two are placed lower and are detached from the center.  They protect the city along with the guardian figures along the causeway, and images of Indra riding his three-headed elephant are carved into the corners of the gates.26

            The Royal Square, located north of the Bayon, consists of a large esplanade with monuments and foundations for the royal palaces, which were built of perishable material. 

Associated structures and remains include the Prasat Suor Prat (a row of twelve towers), the

North and South Khleangs, and terraces.  The Royal Terraces and the Terrace of the Leper King contain extensive narrative friezes.  Two structures, the Baphoun and Phimeanakas, were built before the founding of Angkor Thom, but were incorporated into the overall


The Bayon

            The centerpiece, both literally and metaphorically, of Angkor Thom is the Bayon (Figures 3-6).  It was begun during the second artistic period of the reign of Jayavarman VII, or between c. 1191-1200.  It was completed during the third artistic period, or c. 1200-1220.  The Bayon was his temple-mountain, following the tradition of Khmer rulers, and may have

been his tomb.28              

            In plan (Figure 3), the Bayon consists of three quadrangular enclosures, or galleries, with the innermost one having a cruciform plan.  

            The base of the Bayon was initially in the form of a Greek cross surrounded by an inner enclosure on the same plan.  Soon after, this base was raised and enlarged, the outside corners were blocked by galleries set at right angles to form a rectangle,

70×80 m, constituting a second enclosure attached to the gopuras29 of the first enclosure, which are thus shared between the two enclosures.  The whole was then surrounded by a third gallery forming another enclosure, 140×160 m, which was entirely covered with sculpture in bas-relief.  Meanwhile, 16 small passage halls with vestibules at either end were built between the two galleries…30

            The central sanctuary is circular in plan with twelve radiating chapels.  Each of these chapels contained an image of an important dignitary within the kingdom, and thus they became associated with the royal cult.  This central sanctuary is 43 meters tall.  There are 54 smaller towers above each chapel and sanctuary within the complex.  Each of these towers has four colossal faces (Figure 6), supposedly of Lokésvara in the image of the king.  These faces represent his omnipresence in the kingdom and face the four quarters, an immutable horizon.  These colossal faces also appear on different levels of the central sanctuary as well.31 

            In addition to the colossal faces, other sculptural elements of the Bayon include the extensive reliefs along the outer and inner galleries.  These reliefs depict the daily life of the Khmer along with the life of Jayavarman VII.  The most famous of these images depicts a naval battle where Jayavarman VII defeated the Cham fleet.32  Freestanding statues of Buddha are also found throughout the complex, the best known being a 3.6 meter high statue

of the Buddha seated in meditation, found in the central sanctuary (Figure 7).33            Based on the rules of Buddhist cosmology and the epigraphic evidence, it appears that the Bayon was “consecrated as a meeting-place of the gods, where Brahma in his aspect as head of the Pancashikha gandhavas (‘celestial musicians’) would come to sit next to each god during their ‘ceremonies of good order’.”34  It is both an earthly replica of the divine assembly hall (Sudharma) of the city of Indra and a pantheon that brought together various gods worshipped throughout the kingdom as well as historical figures around a central image of the Buddha.  Texts concerning the Sudharma relate that it is here the gods held “good order” assemblies, under the chairmanship of Indra, and that Buddha honored each of the gods while in his eternally youthful aspect.35

            The 192 colossal faces on the towers of the Bayon have been attributed to a number of identifications.  They were originally thought to represent Brahma, the Creator in the Hindu trinity.  He is generally represented with four faces to indicate his omnipresence.  The discovery of statues of Lokésvara and the Buddha prompted the identification of the faces as Lokésvara.  However, this identification is somewhat tenuous, and some scholars have trouble seeing these colossal faces as Lokésvara, the Buddha, or Jayavarman VII.  As with the popular attribution to Lokésvara, there are no known four faced images.  In addition, this bodhisattva is never shown wearing a warrior’s headdress, nor having that particular role.36  

            Since the Bayon is an assembly hall, texts related to the Sudharma indicate that

Brahma attends in the guise of the chieftan Gandharva Pancasikha, hence the headdress.  

Although none of these details appear in any known Mahayanist source, these sources do allude to the ‘Good Order assemblies’, and since there is no significant difference in cosmological matters between the Mahayanist and the Theravadan traditions, it seems most likely that the faces carved on the Bayon’s towers belong to Brahma in the aspect of Gandharva Pancasikha.37 

            The cosmological significance of the plan is best understood in relation to the whole of Angkor Thom.  The central sanctuary and tower corresponds to the summit of Mt. Meru, and the four subsidiary towers in quincunx correspond to the other four peaks of Mt. Meru.  The galleries that enclose the central sanctuary represent a mandala, or the levels of the universe, and since the Bayon was built inside Angkor Thom, the outer galleries were eliminated.  However, taken in the context of Angkor Thom, the cosmological significance is not lost.38  As stated earlier, the layout of Angkor Thom is a representation of the battle between Indra and the gods with the asuras, with the moat and walls an earthly version of the impregnable city of Indra.  The famous bas-reliefs that show a naval battle between

Jayavarman VII and the Chams, as well as other battle scenes, may also represent on a higher level the divine battle of Indra.  The five gates of Angkor Thom have three summits, and the colossal faces represent the four Great Kings, guardians of the cardinal points.  The central passageways of these gates are guarded by Indra riding the three headed elephant Airavata.  Outside the gates are causeways flanked by statues of nagas and yakshas, again, a reference to the divine battle.39  

Today the Bayon appears to be a tangled, chaotic scene of jumbled stones and collapsed walls.  This is due to the number of alterations and changes made in the plan and design during the construction process.  The symmetry of the plan is best appreciated from aerial views.  Also, many sections of the complex have collapsed, as Khmer builders aligned the vertical joints of stones, rather than staggering them for better stability.  Sandstone also erodes easily, and the roots of the tropical rainforest contributed have also contributed to this deterioration.  It is rather difficult to appreciate the Bayon as it may have looked, given it’s present state.  Much of the surface of the Bayon was painted and gilded, decorative wooden doors, and towers capped with silk banners and gold.  The overall effect was no doubt striking.40 

Concluding Remarks

            Buddhist cosmology emphasizes the harmony of the universe and that there is a symbiotic relationship among all creatures and things, of nature and of humanity.  This coherent and structured vision of the universe was transferred to Khmer architecture.  The temple-mountains of Khmer rulers, symbolizing Mt. Meru, was the center of the Khmer civilization and home of the god-king, just as Mt. Meru was the center of the universe and home of the gods.  The remarkable aspect of Khmer architecture is that not only did it recreate this grand cosmic vision, it did so on a scale that has few parallels in the Buddhist world.  

Most of the temples at Angkor are Hindu, but with the reign of Jayavarman VII three of them are primarily Buddhist: Preah Palilay, Neak Pean, and the Bayon.  The latter structure is the centerpiece of Jayavarman’s cosmological vision, combining both Hindu and

Buddhist elements in the typically syncretic ways of the Khmer.  Horizontally the Bayon is a Hindu conception, but vertically, it is entirely Buddhist.  The mandala-like plan is an embodiment of the levels of the universe, with the towers in quincunx the five peaks of Mt. Meru.  On a larger scale, the wall of Angkor Thom, which encloses the Bayon, represents the mythical wall of rock.  The moat that surrounds the wall in turn represents the great ocean.41  The Bayon itself is a sudharma, or assembly hall of the gods, with Buddha in the central sanctuary and is surrounded by deities.  The mysterious colossal faces of the Bayon, with the trademark “Angkor smile” provokes debate as to their identification as either Lokésvara, Buddha, Brahma, or Jayavarman himself.  Regardless, Angkor Wat may represent Khmer architectural ideals of symmetry, but Angkor Thom represents Khmer originality. 


  1. Much of Southeast Asia was colonized by the French, especially Cambodia and Vietnam.
  2. Cambodia is located to the east of Thailand (ancient Siam) and to the west of Vietnam (ancient Champa).


For more information on pre-Khmer Cambodia see Maud Girard-Geslan, “Cambodia from its Beginnings” in Helen Jessup and Thierry Zephir (editors), Sculpture of Angkor and

Ancient Cambodia: Millenium of Glory.  New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997, pp.3-11.

  • Albert Le Bonheur, “Ancient Cambodia: A Historical Glimpse” in Jessup and Zephir, Sculpture of Angkor, p.14, 17; Madeleine Giteau, Khmer Sculpture and the Angkor Civilization, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1965, pp.17-18.
  • A baray is a large artificial reservoir.  Their function is the subject of considerable debate, as to whether they were ritual and symbolic, or served as the basis of an irrigation system.
  • Le Bonheur, p.17; John Villers, “Angkor, §1:History and Urban Development” The Dictionary of Art.  Volume 2. Jane Turner, editor.  New York: Grove Publishers, 1996, p:54. 7 The western baray measures approximately five miles east to west and more than a mile north to south, Le Bonheur, p.18. 
  • Le Bonheur, p.18; Villers, p.55.
  • The Dai Viet was the first Vietnamese Empire, Le Bonheur, p.18.
  • Le Bonheur, p.18-21; Villers, p.55.
  • Le Bonheur, p.21; Villers, pp.55-56; Giteau, Khmer Sculpture, p.21.
  • Le Bonheur, p.21.
  • For a more detailed discussion of this period of Cambodian history, see Ashley Thompson,

“Changing Perspectives: Cambodia after Angkor” in Jessup and Zephir, Sculpture of Angkor, pp.22-32; for detailed information on significant kings and events of this period, see Giteau, Khmer Sculpture, pp.21-23.

  1. Descriptions of Angkor occur in Spanish and Portuguese travel accounts, the most important of which was by Diogo do Couto, Villers, p,56. 
  2. Villers, p.56; For a more comprehensive discussion of early exploration and scientific interest at Angkor, see Michael Freeman and Roger Warner, Angkor: The Hidden Glories, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990, pp.8-15; In addition to archaeological investigations, French scholars were able to reconstruct Khmer civilization, from courtly life to daily life, through inscriptions and historically oriented bas-reliefs, and through early travel accounts.  The most well known account is from a Chinese diplomat, Chou Ta-Kuan, who lived at Angkor from 1296-1297, Freeman and Warner, Angkor: The Hidden Glories, pp.65-112.
  3. For more information on the war and post-war effects on Angkor, see Peter T. White, “The

Temples of Angkor: Ancient Glory in Stone” National Geographic 161(5), 1982:552-

589; John Gould, “National Geographic to the Rescue” Historic Preservation 34

(Sept/Oct.1982):42-49; Henry Kamm, “War Wounds: Angkor 1980” Art in America

69(Jan.1981):102-106; Wilbur E. Garrett, “The Temples of Angkor: Will they Survive?”

National Geographic 161(5), 1982:548-551; Jack Rosenberger, “More Plunder at Angkor

Wat” Art in America 81(Dec. 1993):25; Roger Warner, “After Centuries of Neglect, Angkor’s Temples Need more that a Face Lift” Smithsonian 21(May 1990): 36-51.

  1. Kamaleswar Bhattacharya, “The Religions of Ancient Cambodia” in Jessup and Zephir, Sculpture of Angkor, p.43.
  2. Bhattacharya, p.42; see also Eleanor Mannikka, Angkor Wat: Time, Space, and Kinship, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996, pp.6-9.
  3. Bhattacharya, p.36.
  4. G.E. Marrison, “Cambodia, §I, 3(iii): Religion, iconography and subject-matter: Buddhism” The Dictionary of Art.  Volume 5. Jane Turner, editor.  New York: Grove Publishers, 1996, p.462.
  5. Bhattacharya, p.49; The central element of the Buddhism of Jayavarman VII was a triad that consisted of Lokésvara, the Buddha, and Prajñāpāramitā.  This triad is found in both sculpture and architecture, and in Cambodia a temple served a commemorative function.  These elements are found in the principal temples built by Jayavarman VII and their inscriptions.  Preah Khan was dedicated to Lokésvara and Jayavarman’s father in 1191.  Ta Prohm was dedicated to Prajñāpāramitā and his mother in 1186, and the Bayon (based on the absence of dedicatory inscriptions) to the Buddha and himself, Hiram W. Woodward, Jr., “Tantric Buddhism at Angkor Thom” Ars Orientalis 12(1981), p.58; It has been suggested that Jayavarman VII was converted by Buddhists from Nalanda in

Bengal, who had been forced out by Islam.  They taught a Mahayana doctrine, with

Sanskrit as its sacred language, and with special emphasis on Lokésvara and Prajñāpāramitā, Guy Nafilyan, “Cambodia, §II, 1(iv)(c): Religious and formal architecture, late Angkor period” The Dictionary of Art. Volume 5.  Jane Turner, editor.  New York: Grove Publishers, 1996, pp.477, 479. 

  • Thailand had established close ties with Sri Lanka, which is the center of Hinayana, or Theravada, Buddhism, Marrison, p.462.
  • Jean Boisselier, “The Meaning of Angkor Thom” in Jessup and Zephir, Sculpture of Angkor, pp.117-118.
  • Boisselier, pp.118-120.
  • Mannikka, pp.8-9.
  • Madeleine Giteau, “Angkor, §2(v)(a): Angkor Thom: City walls and gates” The Dictionary of Art.  Volume 2. Jane Turner, editor.  New York: Grove Publishers, 1996, p.60.
  • Madeleine Giteau, “Angkor, §2(v)(c): Angkor Thom: Royal Square, Royal Palace and

Terraces” The Dictionary of Art. Volume 2. Jane Turner, editor.  New York: Grove Publishers, 1996, p.61.

  • Guy Nafilyan, “Cambodia, §II, 1(iv)(c)(d): Religious and formal architecture, late Angkor period” The Dictionary of Art. Volume 5.  Jane Turner, editor.  New York: Grove Publishers, 1996, p.477-480; Whether or not these temple-mountains served as a funerary monument as well has been the subject of extensive debate.  Since each ruler built his own temple-mountain it stands to reason they may also have served as his tomb. 
  • These are entrance pavilions.
  • Guy Nafilyan, “Cambodia, §II, 1(iv)(d): Religious and formal architecture, late Angkor period” The Dictionary of Art. Volume 5.  Jane Turner, editor.  New York: Grove Publishers, 1996, p.479-480.
  • Nafilyan, p.480; Madeleine Giteau, “Angkor, §2(v)(b): Angkor Thom: Bayon” The Dictionary of Art. Volume 2. Jane Turner, editor.  New York: Grove Publishers, 1996, p.61.
  • Giteau, p.61; Freeman and Warner, Angkor: The Hidden Glories, p.216; Maud GirardGeslan, Marijke J. Klokke, Albert Le Bonheur, Donald M. Stadtner, Valerie Zaleski, and Thierry Zephir.  Art of Southeast Asia.  New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1998, p.195.
  • Giteau, p.61.
  • Giteau, p.61. 35 Jean Boisselier, “A Buddhist Presence amidst the Gods” in Marc Riboud, Angkor: The Serenity of Buddhism.  New York: Thames and Hudson, Inc., 1993, pp.136-138. 
  • Freeman and Warner, p.215-216; Girard-Geslan et al, p.195; Boisselier, “A Buddhist Presence amidst the Gods” in Marc Riboud, Angkor: The Serenity of Buddhism.  New York: Thames and Hudson, Inc., 1993, pp.137-138.
  • Boisselier, “A Buddhist Presence amidst the Gods” in Marc Riboud, Angkor: The Serenity of Buddhism.  New York: Thames and Hudson, Inc., 1993, p.138.


Joan Lebold Cohen,  Angkor: Monuments of the God-Kings.  New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1975, p.154.

  • Boisselier, “A Buddhist Presence amidst the Gods” in Marc Riboud, Angkor: The Serenity of Buddhism.  New York: Thames and Hudson, Inc., 1993, pp.135-137.
  • Robert E. Fisher, Buddhist Art and Architecture.  New York: Thames and Hudson, 1993, p.192.
  • Fisher, p.189.


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Fisher, Robert E.  Buddhist Art and Architecture.  New York: Thames and Hudson, 1993.

Freeman, Michael, and Roger Warner.  Angkor: The Hidden Glories.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990.

Garrett, Wilbur E.  “The Temples of Angkor: Will they Survive?” National Geographic 161(5), 1982:548-551.

Girard-Geslan, Maud, Marijke J. Klokke, Albert Le Bonheur, Donald M. Stadtner, Valerie Zaleski, and Thierry Zephir.  Art of Southeast Asia.  New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1998.

Giteau, Madeleine.  Khmer Sculpture and the Angkor Civilization. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1965.

Gould, John.  “National Geographic to the Rescue” Historic Preservation 34 (Sept/Oct.1982):42-49.

Groslier, Bernard, and Jacques Arthaud.  Angkor: Art and Civilization.  New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1966.


Jacques, Claude.  Angkor.  Paris: Bordas S.A., 1990.

Jessup, Helen Ibbitson and Thierry Zephir (editors).  Sculpture of Angkor and Ancient Cambodia: Millenium of Glory.  New York: Thames and Hudson, Inc., 1997. 

Kamm, Henry.  “War Wounds: Angkor 1980” Art in America 69(Jan.1981):102-106.

Lee, Sherman E.  A History of Far Eastern Art.  Fourth Edition.  New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1982

Mannikka, Eleanor.  Angkor Wat: Time, Space, and Kingship.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996.

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Riboud, Marc.  Angkor: The Serenity of Buddhism.  New York: Thames and Hudson, Inc., 1993.

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Figure 1: Map of Cambodia.

Figure 2: Plan of Angkor site, Cambodia.

Figure 3: Plan of the Bayon. Angkor Thom.

Figure 4: Aerial view of the Bayon, Angkor Thom.

Figure 5: Aerial view of the Bayon, Angkor Thom.

Figure 6: Detail view of faces on the Bayon, Angkor Thom.

Figure 7: Buddha from the central sanctuary of the Bayon.  Discovered in 1933 during     excavations at a depth of 45 feet, on axis of the central tower.

 Figure 2

Figure 3: Plan of the Bayon, late 12th to early 13th centuries, Angkor Thom.

Figure 4: Aerial view of the Bayon, late 12th to early 13th centuries, Angkor Thom.

Figure 5: Aerial view of the Bayon, late 12th to early 13th centuries, Angkor Thom.

Figure 6: Detail view of colossal faces of the Bayon, late 12th to early 13th centuries, Angkor Thom.

Figure 7: Buddha of the central sanctuary of the Bayon, late 12th to early 13th centuries, Angkor Thom.

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