Sunday 5 February 2017

Khmer Empire Of Combodia

The Khmer Empire, officially the Angkor Empire, the predecessor state to modern Cambodia ("Kampuchea" or "Srok Khmer" to the Khmer people), was a powerful Hindu-Buddhist empire in Southeast Asia. Its greatest legacy is Angkor, which was the site of the capital city during the empire's zenith. The majestic monuments of Angkor—such as Angkor Wat and Bayon—bear testimony to the Khmer Empire's immense power and wealth, impressive art and culture, architectural technique and aesthetics achievements, as well as the variety of belief systems that it patronised over time.

Bayon Temple

Jayavarman II (802-835) is widely regarded as a king who set the foundations of the Angkor period in Cambodian history, beginning with a grandiose consecration ritual that he conducted in 802 on the sacred Mount Mahendraparvata, now known as Phnom Kulen, to celebrate the independence of Kambuja from Javanese dominion. In the following years he extended his territory and eventually, later in his reign, established his new capital of Hariharalaya. He thereby laid the foundation of Angkor, which was to arise some 15 km to the northwest. 

Jayavarman II

Jayavarman II died in the year 835 and he was succeeded by his son Jayavarman III. Jayavarman III died in 877 and was succeeded by Indravarman I(reigned 877 – 889)He managed to expand the kingdom without wars, and he began extensive building projects, thanks to the wealth gained through trade and agriculture. Foremost were the temple of Preah Ko and irrigation works. Indravarman I developed Hariharalaya further by constructing Bakong c.881. 

Preah Ko Temple

Indravarman I was followed by his son Yasovarman I (reigned 889 – 915), who established a new capital, Yasodharapura – the first city of Angkor. The city's central temple was built on Phnom Bakheng, a hill which rises around 60 m above the plain on which Angkor sits. 

Temple and mausoleum dedicated to King Yasovarman

Under Yasovarman I the East Baray was also created, a massive water reservoir of 7.1 by 1.7 km.

East Baray

At the beginning of the 10th century the kingdom split. Jayavarman IV established a new capital at Koh Ker, some 100 km northeast of Angkor, called Lingapura. Only with Rajendravarman II (reigned 944 – 968) was the royal palace returned to Yasodharapura. He took up again the extensive building schemes of the earlier kings and established a series of buildings in the Angkor area and several Buddhist temples, such as Pre Rup, and monasteries..

Pre Rup, Angkor

The son of Rajendravarman II, Jayavarman V, reigned from 968 to 1001. After he had established himself as the new king over the other princes, his rule was a largely peaceful period, marked by prosperity and a cultural flowering. He established a new capital slightly west of his father's and named it Jayendranagari; its state temple, Ta Keo, was to the south. At the court of Jayavarman V lived philosophers, scholars, and artists. New temples were also established: the most important of these are Banteay Srei.

Banteay Srei

A decade of conflict followed the death of Jayavarman V. Three kings reigned simultaneously as antagonists until Suryavarman I (reigned 1006 – 1050) gained the throne. Suryavarman I established diplomatic relations with the Chola dynasty of south India. Suryavarman I sent a chariot as a present to the Chola Emperor Rajaraja Chola I.  Suryavarman I's wife was Viralakshmi, and following his death in 1050, he was succeeded by Udayadityavarman II, who built the Baphuon and West Baray.

Baphuon Temple

Under Suryavarman II (reigned 1113–1150) the kingdom united internally and the largest temple of Angkor was built in a period of 37 years: Angkor Wat, dedicated to the god Vishnu. It has the largest religious complex in the world. He sent a mission to the Chola dynasty of south India and presented a precious stone to the Chola Emperor Kulothunga Chola I in 1114. 

Angkor Wat

King Jayavarman VII (reigned 1181–1219) was generally considered as Cambodia's greatest king. He had already been a military leader as a prince under previous kings. The new capital, now called Angkor Thom (literally: "Great City"), was built. In the centre, the king (himself a follower of Mahayana Buddhism) had constructed as the state temple the Bayon(above), with towers bearing faces of the boddhisattva Avalokiteshvara, each several metres high, carved out of stone.

Detail of Bayon Temple

After the death of Jayavarman VII, his son Indravarman II (reigned 1219–1243) ascended the throne. Like his father, he was a Buddhist, and he completed a series of temples begun under his father's rule. As a warrior he was less successful.

Portrait statue of Jayavarman VII 

Indravarman II was succeeded by Jayavarman VIII (reigned 1243–1295). In contrast to his predecessors, Jayavarman VIII was a devotee of the Hindu deity Shiva and an aggressive opponent of Buddhism, destroying many Buddha statues in the empire and converting Buddhist temples to Hindu temples.

Statue of Lord Shiva

Jayavarman VIII's rule ended in 1295 when he was deposed by his son-in-law Srindravarman (reigned 1295–1309). The new king was a follower of Theravada Buddhism, a school of Buddhism that had arrived in southeast Asia from Sri Lanka and subsequently spread through most of the region.

By the 14th century, the Khmer empire suffered a long, arduous, and steady decline. Historians have proposed different causes for the decline: the religious conversion from Vishnuite-Shivaite Hinduism to Theravada Buddhism that affected social and political systems, incessant internal power struggles among Khmer princes, vassal revolt, foreign invasion, plague, and ecological breakdown.

1 comment:

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