Friday, May 8, 2009

Angkor Thom, Cambodia

This card from Cambodia was a very exciting surprise in my mailbox. It comes from user AnChieh, who lives in Taiwan but went on holiday in Cambodia. 

This photo shows the temple Baksei Chamkrong, which is a small Hindu temple located in the sprawling ancient ruins of the city of Angkor Thom. Baksei Chamkrong is the name of this temple, which translates to "The Bird Who Shelters Under Its Wings." It comes from the legend of a king who tried to escape Angkor during a siege and was protected by an enormous bird that protected him with its wings. This temple was erected in the 10th century, and it is devoted to the Hindu avatar Lord Shiva, god of destruction. The temple held (still holds?) a golden image of him.

Angkor Thom was an important city in the Khmer empire (the largest empire in Southest Asia that was based in present-day Cambodia) - the largest and longest-lasting capital city of the empire. The city is rife with the beautiful architecture and sculpture that you can also see in the more famous Khmer city of Angkor Wat. 

I know very little about Khmer culture, or Cambodia in general, but Khmer seems to refer both to an ethnic group and also the official language of Cambodia. In order to enlighten myself (and you!) I found a cool video of traditional Khmer dancing. Check it out. :)


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