Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Flying Palaces

The brick tower S10 in the southern group at Sambor Prei Kuk, showing the large flying palaces on its outside walls
Inside one of the flying palaces are deities and royal figures looking out
Flying Palaces are essentially a miniature facade of a palace with deities or royal figures looking out of the windows and doors of the building. These are most commonly found on the external walls of the brick temples at Sambor Prei Kuk, and other temples of that era - the 7th century - and were all once covered in white stucco and most probably painted. The flying palaces provide a wonderful decorative feature on the individual brick towers at Sambor in addition to the usual decoration such as lintels and colonettes. Due to the ravages of time, many of Sambor's flying palaces have not fared so well and the carving is indistinct, worn and weathered but they do make for a unique and quite colourful addition to the towers of this lovely forested setting, 30kms north of Kompong Thom. The friezes of winged horses and other animals and figures at the base of the flying palaces are another feature well worth a closer inspection next time you visit Sambor Prei Kuk. My time was very short during last week's visit, so my photos of the flying palaces are few. Next time I'm there, I hope to spend a few days visiting all of the 250+ temples that dot the landscape in that area.
This flying palace at Prasat Trapeang Ropeak still retains its original stucco covering
A flying palace with figures inside and carvings below at the northern group tower N7A frieze of winged horses and a Garuda style figure on tower N7
Fantasy mythological figures adorn the bottom of the flying palaces in the northern group
More fantasy figures, both human and animal in appearance
A flying palace on tower N15, near to the Isanborei craft hut at Sambor Prei Kuk


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