Banteay Srei

23

Nov
2021

Banteay Srei

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Located at the foot of the Kulen Mountain, the remote temple complex of Banteay Srei, meaning Citadel of Beauty, is ornamented with exquisitely detailed carvings. Executed in pink sandstone, the complex was built in the second half of the 10th century by Yajnavaraha, one of King Rajendravarman’s counselors and future guru of King Jayavarman V. Therefore, unlike most other monuments in Angkor, it is not a royal temple. Granted land along the Stung Siem Reap, Yajnavaraha commissioned the temple to be built here. What separates this miniature scaled temple from so many others in Angkor is the fact that most of its surface area has been elaborately deco rated; little wonder  that it is often described as the jewel of Khmer art. Discovered in 1914, four of its apsaras were famously snatched by the future French minister of culture, Andre Malraux – who served under President Charles De Gaulle – in 1923. The statues were recovered and returned soon after. Rectangular in shape, and enclosed by three walls and the remains of a moat, the central sanctuary contains ornate shrines dedicated to Shiva. The intricately carved lintels reproduce scenes from the Hindu epic, Ramayana. Representations of Shiva; his consort Parvati; the Monkey God, Hanuman; the divine cowherd, Krishna; and the Demon King, Ravana are all beautifully etched. Also exceptional are the elaborate and finely detailed figures of gods and goddesses carved into the niches of the towers in the central sanctuary. The male divinities carry lances and wear simple loincloths. By  contrast, the god- desses, with their long hair tied in buns or plaits, are dressed in loosely draped traditional skirts, and almost every inch of their bodies is laden with gorgeous jewelry.

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