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Angkor Archeological Park

Bayon

Explore the heart of the Khmer ancestral empire

     Bayon was erected under the reign of Jayavarman VII, towards the end of the 12th century; this extremely complex temple is sometimes viewed as embodying a type of Angkorian “baroque” in comparison with Angkor Wat. The smiling face depicted on many of its towers is enigmatic. Only 37 towers are still standing among the 49 or 54. Its exceptional bas-reliefs depict the daily life of the Khmers at the time of Angkor’s grandeur and mythological scenes.

History

     The Bayon has a multitude of symbolic functions. When considered in relation to the walled city of Angkor Thom, it is the pivotal mountain that serves in the ” Churning of the Sea of Milk ” around which is called the serpent Vasuki. This is the belt that the gods and demons use and by their exertion in rotating it (as demonstrated on each causeway at the five gates to the city) from the depths of the water comes the “Elixir of Immortality”. In this way, the city of Yashodhara was reborn, splendid as then immortal city, after four years of Cham occupation (1177-1181).

In itself, the Bayon is a Mahayana Buddhist temple built for the Buddha seated under the Naga named ” Jayabuddhamahánātha “, the name reflecting that of the king responsible for its construction, Jayavarman VII. This statue has experienced issues due to the change of religion. Today it is installed at ” Vihear Prampil Lveng ” a pagoda alongside the Avenue of Victory gate. The Bayon gives material context to all the energies of the kingdom. Inscriptions engraved within cartouches on stones in numerous chapels indicate that gods of different provinces are housed there, with sometimes simple local divinities, represented by the statues within.

     The monument is remarkable for its many characteristics. The towers surmounted by faces have earned the term ” enigmatic” which has resulted in many discussions and debates and, nurtured the creativity of authors and poets. Almost all of the exterior galleries that are today without roof have bas – reliefs on the walls.

The Chinese appear in many places; they form a troupe of foot – soldiers, shop – owners with Khmer women as wives, and in drunken dance aboard in boat. Other bas – reliefs show small stalls at the marketplace, construction workers plotting a road, women preparing fish on skewers, and women suffering from who knows what sickness – such varied scenes eloquently portray the daily life of the people.

According to a stone inscription, Bayon Temple was originally known as “Chey Kiri” (Triumphant Mountain). It represents a grand symbol in the entire Angkor City, projecting an image of Mount Mandara in the middle of the Ocean of Milk. In the scene, angels and demons compete in churning the ocean of milk to extract the immortal water. They struck an agreement under which the water will to become the sole possession whichever party that is able to generate it first. Both sides used the lengthy body of the naga king named Pisokei to tie around a mountain and with it they began stirring the body of the ocean. Visitors can fine this scene carved on the walls at all five entrances into Angkor Thom. In the context of this legend, Bayon, which is located in the middle of Angkor Thom, represents a new city immortal and unshakable after having occupied by the Cham army for four years (1177 – 1181).

Bayon temple is also the sanctuary of Jayabuddhamahanat characterized by the statue of the Naga- roofed Buddha in the middle of the temple. The statue is now being kept at the seven pavilion monastery on the way to Victory Gate of Angkor city. Each guard tower of Bayon Temple features statues of angels and mystical animals that protected the Khmer Empire. Similar sculptures can also be found at Wat Phou, Preah Vihear, and Phnom Chiso. In this context, Bayon Temple represents itself as a divine congregation hall called the “Judgment of the Gods”. One of the main characteristics of this temple is the stone carvings vividly describing the historical events and daily life of the common people during that period.

Discover all the current projects happening in Bayon Temple

Info and tips for visitor

Date :

End of the 12th century

Style

Bayon

Opening hours

7:30 am to 5:30 pm The central tower of Bayon temple is temporary closed for conservation and restoration work from February 1, 2020 until completion.

Reign

Jayavarman VII

Religion

Buddhist

Tour

Between 1h ½ to 2 hours

Click to take a tour of the photo gallery of Bayon Temple