Today I continue sharing my photos of Cambodia, even though A Traveler’s Library is in the midst of England week. The truth is, I have very few pictures of England because I have spent such brief periods there.
Additionally, I want to continue with Cambodia and show you some of the carvings that amazed me when I was visiting the Bayon Temple at Siem Riep, not far from the more famous Angkor Wat. To put this in perspective, you have to remember that the art was created during what was known as the late Middle Ages in Europe (in the 12the and 13th centuries). At that time, Europeans had no knowledge of the cultures of southeast Asia and vice versa. Each thought, as people tend to do, that they were the center of the universe and the height of civilization.
What the art of the two countries have in common during that period is that most art was created to tell religious stories to people who could not read. At Angkor Wat the carvings depict wars and one particularly graphic wall depicts what your life will be like in hell. That one reminded me of the Christian paintings of suffering souls burning and being tortured by Satan. However, I was particularly drawn to the bas reliefs at the Bayon that showed every day life–some of which has changed very little over the centuries. The Christian paintings and carvings of Europe and the temple bas relief carvings of Cambodia–which were indeed the height of civilization?
When you visit Siem Riep you are confronted with an array of art that rivals the Louvre or the Hermitage in quantity, if not variety (although with both Buddhist and Hindu art in most temples, you get quite a bit of variety, too.) I could have taken pictures of these bas reliefs for weeks. “Oh, look at this one!” “Oh, look here!” As a traveler–you know the feeling, I’m sure.
These photos are part of Travel Photo Thursday, and to see more travel photos, click over to Budget Traveler’s Sandbox. There you can see photos from around the world from a great variety of travel writers and photographers.