Friday, June 6, 2008

Also in Oudong

The massive pyramid stupa at Wat Prang in Oudong town
Sitting inside the boundaries of Oudong town is the pagoda of Wat Prang, which boasts this unusual pyramid shrine pictured here. Part of the former capital city of Oudong in the 17th century, the monks referred to the pyramid as simply 'borann' and much renovation work is taking place to shore up the decaying stonework of the original monument, which effectively is a giant stupa. The monks weren't aware of the history of the site but it was clear that the broken lions, pedestals and ancient seima stones sat under a tree next to the pagoda's main vihara were evidence that parts of the site pre-date the arrival of the monarch at Oudong. The view from the small shrine at the top of the pyramid was fantastic and the stupas of Oudong mountain itself were visible through the trees. The vihara of the pagoda was extravagantly-painted inside and the main shrine was very ornate, with what appeared to be a small jade Buddha at its core. The extensive grounds of the pagoda contained some of its original buildings and a 1939 French colonial house was now the monk's quarters. The town of Oudong boasts a series of interesting pagodas, including the iron canons at Veang Chas and is well worth a quick diversion if you are visiting the Kings' stupas at Oudong. In the grounds of another pagoda nearby, Wat Sopha Nuvong Rottanaram, I spotted a makara (sea monster) carving on a piece of stone and brushing aside the shrubs, found a larger section of lintel and other stones with vestiges of carving on them. It's often amazing what you can find under a bush.
Oudong mountain through the trees from the top of the pyramid stupa at Wat Prang
A view of the crumbling original stonework at Wat Prang
A broken sandstone lion suggests earlier beginnings for Wat Prang
These ancient seima stones have been left by a tree and partly covered in whitewash paint!
The ornate main shrine within the vihara at Wat Prang
One of the colourful wall paintings within Wat Prang
A 1939 French colonial house is now the monk's quarters at Wat Prang
A lintel with makara carving hidden under a bush at Wat Sopha Nuvong Rottanaram


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy, in Cambodia, it is common for Khmer people to build or rebuild a modern khmer pagoda on or near an old or ancient site. I can tell you that most of the newer khmer pagoda or temples one sees all over Cambodia were build on old, ancient sites of some sort. Having said that though, Khmer monks don't usually destroy the old sites, they just rebuild newer ones over the original sites, especially the ones that are really crumbling apart; they would rebuild on that site. It may seem like they are destroying the old ones, however, they are actually preserving them underneath the newer ones. God Bless.

June 7, 2008 1:57 AM  

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