Thursday, May 12, 2016

Cambodian Temple: Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei, otherwise known as the Citadel of Women was discovered 1914. It is located in the heart of the jungle, about 20 kilometers north-east of Angkor Thom. Banteay Srei dates to AD 967, according to early records. It was not built by royalty, but by two Brahman brothers, one of whom was the King’s Brahman advisor, according to an inscription at the site.

However, in the 1920’s there was great debate about the actual age of the temple as the various archeologists could not agree and spent much time and effort discounting each other. I guess some things never change in this world!

After they all finally agreed to work together and were finally able to produce dates for all of the temples in the Angkor area. Banteay Srei was one of the first to be rebuilt for several reasons: it is of artistic interest and due to the certainty of finding all of the stones in the vicinity.

When you see the size of the stones used to construct these temples, it is hard to imagine how they were constructed. Putting them back together is like doing a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. The technique used to reassemble the structure is called anastylosis. It involves removing and repositioning each stone block. They are massive in size!

In 1995, Banteay Srei was declared off limits as some tourist were killed by a group identified as bandits with Khmer Rouge backgrounds. Due to its remote location, the temple posed a security risk and was a target from art theft. It was reopened to tourist in 2001

Banteay Srei decoration is virtually intact and reveals a wealth of symbolism. We walked on what is left of the triumphal causeway into the inner sanctuary. Guarding the entrance stairs are sculpted kneeling human sculptures that had originally had heads of monkeys or lions, but most of the heads have been hacked off by treasure hunters. The carvings throughout are amazing – especially when you realize how old they are!

Even today there are still conflicting thoughts about this temple. The modern thought is that the name Banteay Srei translated to “citadel of women” and refers to the delicate beauty of the carvings and not that it was built for a woman or women. The temple displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art - the walls densely covered with some of the most beautiful, deep and intricate carvings of any Angkorian temple. The temple's relatively small size, pink sandstone construction and ornate design give it a fairyland ambiance.


No comments:

Post a Comment

We would love to hear from you here. You can see earlier posts at