Sunday, June 1, 2008

The nagas of Phnom Banan

Garuda surrounded by serpent heads on this naga balustrade at the foot of Phnom Banan
At the base of the steps leading to Phnom Banan, located some 22kms southwest of Battambang, are a series of nagas that have been rescued from the undergrowth and re-assembled on a renovated platform that leads onto a long and steep stairway to the temple itself. Quite a few of the nagas are still in excellent condition, considering their age - the temple was constructed in two eras, the 11th and again, in the 13th century - and the trouble and strife that the Battambang area in particular has endured. The four pictured here are all identical and feature Garuda in the centre, surrounded by seven naga heads. The naga is a serpent-god of the waters, guardian of the earth's treasures, the keeper of the energy stored in water and through its water resources, safeguards the prosperity of the region. Its greatest enemy historically is Garuda (beak, talons and wings of an eagle, limbs of a man), but later in Khmer art, the two become inseparable and this is shown on these examples. This is a mini-treasure trove of nagas with their balustrade bodies and the renovated platform and stairway lays a great welcome mat for this oft-visited hilltop temple.
Garuda and nagas on the platform at Phnom Banan
I counted a dozen nagas like this on the platform. The 4 photographed here were the best examples
Another well-preserved naga at Phnom Banan


Anonymous Anonymous said...

the location of prasat phnom banan looks so nice; great location with lushes green, leafy trees and the rain makes it even more beautiful. god bless cambodia.

June 4, 2008 4:13 AM  

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