Angkor Is Called the Largest Religious Monument Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2006 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: History - Asian

Angkor is called the "Largest Religious Monument in the World," with good cause. As a whole, it takes up hundreds of square miles and parts of it still have not been investigated fully. Tourists flock to the area, hoping to get a taste of the mystery and history that surrounds these huge complexes still being swallowed by the jungle. In a land beset by typhoons and rain, heat, huge rivers and deltas, mountains and jungles, it is a wonder that the cities of Angkor, and especially the great temple of Angkor Wat, were found at all, and still remain for men and women to marvel over. (Jacobson, 5)

Cambodia lies at the heart of Indochina, bordered by Thailand to the west, Laos and Thailand to the north, and Vietnam to the east. It is wonderful place that, despite being tiny and having large, powerful neighbors, has remained strongly Khmer, with traditions that have travelled from the long-ago past, older than Thailand and definitely not Chinese, who has dominated Vietnam. It spread its influence throughout the region, however, in prehistoric times, all the way into India and beyond. (Ray, 1)

The country's natural beauty and history are waiting... The Cambodian people are among the friendliest in the world, and... magical doors will open before you." (Gilbert, 1)

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The earliest inhabitants of South Asia East are generally called austro-Asians (or proto Malayan). These people spread (Austro-Nesian group) to Indonesia, to the Philippines, to New Guinea, to Australia, to New Zealand, to Polyneasa, to Madagascar, to maybe even America.

The area of Tonkin (as it is currently called) is the cradle of the Austro-Asian neolithic civilizations. During the Bronze Age it belonged to Indochina and Indonesia, until the Chinese arrived in Tonkin in 207 B.C. The Indian traders and Brahmans arrived around 1 A.D.

Term Paper on Angkor Is Called the Largest Religious Monument Assignment

Two centuries before Indian colonization, the Chinese extended their influence to the north of Indochina. The kingdom of Nam Viet, independent since 207 B.C. became, in 111 B.C., a subordinate province of the Chinese Han empire. In 43 B.C., Nam Viet was annexed to it.

As the Chinese rule became weaker in the North, the Khmer people moved into it and the An Am acquired its independence, becoming the Dai Viet kingdom. In the West, the kingdom moved into the Mon Dvaravati kingdom, completing its annexation in the 11th century.

In 1040 the Myan flood, coming from Tibet, filled the whole valley of Irrawaddy. Aniruddha, a warrior king began the Burman nation, utilizing the Mon civilization's culture and giving them his alphabet. Pagan, the new capital of this kingdom becomes the central city from which Theravada Buddhism radiates, while the surrounding nations live in an uneasy state of tension. (Angkor com, 7)

In the 12th century the Khmer empire reached its maximum size. Suryavarman II, the builder of Angkor Vat carried out a millitary occupation of Champa about 1130 with many bloody battles. The Chams rid themselves of this king and occupied the capital. At the end of the 12th century, the great Khmer king Jayavarman VII restored the city and drove the Chams out, colonizing Haripunjaya, the last independent Mon kingdom. In 1225 no city in the world equaled Angkor Thom in size, wealth and beauty. (Facts, 5)

The succeeding kings used Jayavarman VII's heritage, wasting it and living off its richness. So, when the Mongols invaded, in the 13th century, Gingis Khan established the Yuan dynasty, and the Mongolian emperor, Kubilai Khan annexed Nan Chao in 1253 and continued expanding his rule throughout the south, taking in the Myan kingdom of Pagan.

In 1287 the three principalities decided to make an alliance, becoming Siam, which extended throughout the Menam Valley. China again invaded during the last part of the century (1281-1288).

From 1327 on, there was no trace of the Angkor kings. Fa Ngum, a Laotian prince, educated in Angkor founded in the mountains the high Mekong-Lan Xang, the Kingdom of a Million Elephants.

In 1863, Cambodia asked for France's protection and survived as a nation as a result, from encroaching neighbors, Vietnam, China and Siam. Laos did the same and France was the protectorate of these two kingdoms, which is the current division of this region, established at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Site: Angkor Wat is the name of the major temple at Angkor. Regarded as the masterpiece of Khmer architecture, it is a pyramid built by Suryavarman II between 1113 and 1150, surrounded by a moat 570 feet wide and 4 miles long. Masses of bas-relief carving of exquisite quality is beautifully executed on this temple.

The Baphuon is another large pyramid build by Udayadityavarman II between 1050 and 1066, featuring beautiful carvings, such as a 131-ft long reclining Buddha.

There are nine major temples to view these days, but many are in disrepair. Some are well-preserved, fortunately, and feature excellent carvings.

The temples are spread out over 40 miles around Siem Reap, a village today. It is located 192 miles from Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. The two main sites are at Roluos, about 10 miles southeast of Siem Reap, containing some of the earliest temples built, and the second is near Siem Reap, where Yasovarman I moved the capital. The second site is much larger and majority of the Khmer temples are located here. It is official known as the City of Angkor. There are other temples in the area, some up to 20 miles away, and others may be found in other parts of Cambodia, China, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

The Angkor Conservation, situated between Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, is about a mile north of the Grand Hotel. This large compound headquarters the study and preservation of the temples. Thousands of statues found at the temples are kept here to prevent them being stolen. It is possible to view them, but special permission must be obtained from the provincial authorities. ( 2006)

Khmer architecture was unique. At its height, the designs culminated in the creation of some of the greatest religious monuments the world has ever known. As in other areas of their culture, the Cambodians inherited

Indian styles and architecture. Once the influence of India on the kingdom was no longer strong, in the 7th to 8th centuries AD, the architecture began to develop along independent lines. It flourished under wealthy kings who ruled with defensive wars, manpower and wealth. These factors were part of the reason for building larger buildings built then at Angkor in the 11th and 12th centuries.

Hindu religion played an important role in the styles of the Khmer temples. This religion was brought to Cambodia in the 2nd or 3rd century and temples were then built to honor Hindu gods. (Mysteries, 5)

It was Jayavarman II (c. AD800 to AD850) who introduced the Devaraja cult into Cambodia, in which the king was the representative of the Hindu god, Shiva. After that, temples were built to honor the god and the king. The practice of each new king building his own temple which was his tomb upon his death, was firmly established during the next two kings who reigned.

Jayavarman II also made the first map and designed his temple as the cosmic mountain of Hindue mythology, Mount Meru. It told the story and history of the gods. This form, of a pyramid, gradually evolved over the next 350 years, until it culminated in the building of Angkor Wat, the greatest and most beautiful of all the temples. The temples were the center of the religion and politics, as the temples told the history of the gods and the people. The perfection of creating bas-relief carvings was passed down until it was a perfect art for describing the stories of the great Hindu epics, particularly the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, portrayed on the surface walls of the Khmer temples. The courtyards surrounding the temples, linked together by avenues, became the center of commerce and politics, as well as religion. Less important buildings were located at the outer edges of the complex and the shrines were in the center. The temple complexes were well planned and well laid out by master architects and planners. (Ray, 15)

The wealthy and noble lived near the center of the complex. A series of plazas, avenues terraces and causeways were planned with water brought in by canals from large reservoirs, a program begun under Indravarman I (c. AD 877-AD 899). People drank the water, used it to grow crops and for many other uses, which contributed to the wealth and growth of the cities.

Originally, all buildings in Cambodia, including temples had been made of wood. But none of these survive. Later on, the brick temples were manufactured from early Funan times, as very little stone was available. These were single brick towers with one door. The door was made of stone carved with simple designs and inside was the small room with a statue of Shiva or Vishnu.

Between the 9th and 13th centuries, laterite and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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