The faces carved on the towers of Bayon temple form part of the group of most recognisable images of the Angkor Achaeological park. The inscrutable faces stare at you- some smiling, some pensive and you wonder what the people who built them were trying to tell you.
Bayon temple was constructed in the late 12th and early 13th century. It was built under the reign of a king called Jayavarman VII- he built the temple after he won a war with the Chams (from Vietnam). He also constructed the city of Angkor Thom in which Bayon is located.
Although Jayavarman VII was himself a Buddhist, the kings who succeeded after him were not and often many of the Buddhist imagery in the temple were attacked and removed (only for Buddhism to come back at a later stage).
It is not clear what or who the faces represent. Do the faces represent the Avalokitesvara Buddha? Or do they represent the Hindu God Shiva (some of the faces also have something resembling a third eye). Or did they represent Jayavarman himself? It is possible that this ambiguity helped the faces survive almost intact (except for the wearing out over time).
It’s estimated that there are over 200 faces at Bayon.
So there you go- my attempt for the alphabet B. In case you are wondering my theme is not Cambodia (although I was tempted). There is no theme and tomorrow I am going to be blogging about something completely different!