Sunday, May 25, 2008

18 Cubit Buddha

New columns and new Buddha at Vihear Preah Put Atharoes
Oudong served as the capital of Cambodia between 1618 and 1866 and the remains of many of its Kings are interred on top of Phnom Oudong. As famous as the stupas of the Kings was the Vihara of the 18 Cubit Buddha, also known as Vihear Preah Put Atharoes, which suffered bombing by the Americans and then was blown to smithereens by the Khmer Rouge in 1977, with just some of its right side remaining on view, alongwith the pillars of the vihara, that was first erected in 1911. That was all that could be seen on my first visit back in 1998, though today the sanctuary is a hive of building activity as the vihara is being renovated, a replacement thirty-metre high Buddha is in situ and its hard to spot the original pieces amongst the new concrete. However if you look close enough, two lintels and colonettes remain either side of the door to the vihara and fragments of ceramic decoration are in place at the base of the Buddha. I'm not convinced that the lintels are of Angkorean-age but there is evidence of laterite and sandstone temples of that era on the mountain, so they may be left-overs from that time. You reach the giant Buddha by taking the right-hand steps near the Neak Ta figure of Lok Ta Dambong Daek.
The right-hand doorway with lintel and colonettes and naga antefixes
A kala lintel with Vishvakarma seated above
Painting of the giant Buddha continues. Some of its original ceramic decoration can be seen on its plinth
One of two doorways into the vihara with a lintel in situ
A popular lintel carving is a kala with Vishvakarma seated above

This is an old photo of Vihear Preah Put Atharoes with its ceiling intact (from Khmer Renaissance)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy, are they rebuilding the Vihear Preah Put Atharos? i hope so because there is a well-known legend about it. i think if you ask the local monks they can probably tell you more about it. it's very interesting legend. god bless.

May 26, 2008 1:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Andy
have you by chance reviewed Christopher Moore's 'Zero Hour in PP'? if so, where to find the review? By the way, action is set during the UNTAC years, by the time of of your 1st trip to Cambodia - am I right? I look fwd to read one day a detailed recollection of those days by Andy Brouwer.
Or koom (((thom)))((( thom)))- Philly Joe (Toledo, Ohio)

May 26, 2008 8:56 AM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Dear Anon, yes they are rebuilding Vihear Preah Put Atharoes. I tried to find out about the legends but I didn't have enough time to find out all the information or see all the stupas, so I will return there in the future. Phnom Oudong has a lot to see!

Re Zero Hour in PP - I have this book which I bought from Monument Books a few months ago. I simply haven't had time to read it yet.

I went to Cambodia for the 1st time just after the UNTAC period, in late 1994. Cambodia was very much akin to the 'wild west' at that time though it was the most thrilling experience of my life and it hooked me into Cambodia ever since. I have my notes from that 1st trip but it was so short (just 5 days) it went in a nano-second of time and thinking of it now, its hard to pick out that trip from future visits in the immediate years. I must dig out my notes to see what I wrote about my experiences at that time.
I do recall lots of it though, like the gorgeous PPenh female guide I had, the lack of street lights, the lack of everything really, the sheer number of limbless beggars in the streets, having to buy clothes at the Central Market after my bag failed to arrive, how scared I felt in PPenh, then the sheer wonder at seeing Angkor Wat for the 1st time, with no-one else about; alone in Angkor Wat, can you imagine it now!! The incredible faces of The Bayon and the South Gate - which hooked me into the giant faces forever - I recall the fire trucks backing into the river at Siem Reap to take on their water and to be cleaned - and other memories, which I will refresh by looking at my notes. If I get my act together I will publish them on my blog/website, sometime in the future.
hey Joe thanks for reminding me of those incredible, life-changing days...

May 26, 2008 11:48 AM  

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