Bayon: The Serene & Mysterious Faces

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.

Faces Carved on Bayon Temple Towers
Faces Carved on Bayon Temple Towers

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). Β He also constructed the city of Angkor Thom in which Bayon is located.

Entrance to the Temple
Entrance to the Temple

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).

View from Courtyard- Bayon Temple
View from Courtyard- Bayon Temple

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).

Who do they represent?
Who do they represent?

It’s estimated that there are over 200 faces at Bayon.

Over 200 inscrutable faces
Over 200 inscrutable faces

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!

B for Bayon
B for Bayon
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15 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for posting these beautiful and interesting photographs and the history lesson. πŸ™‚

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Thank you- I’m glad you found it interesting!

  2. Lav says:

    Fascinating!

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      True!

  3. Rama says:

    We’ve been forever wanting to go to Cambodia! Someday……!! Enjoyed the post! πŸ™‚

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      I hope you manage to visit soon! It’s fascinating

  4. Nirmala says:

    Interesting write up. Nice pictures! looking forward for C !

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Coming up in a few hours!

  5. Apar says:

    Beautiful and makes me yearn to go to Cambodia to see these in person! Amazed at the beauty of the faces. Wonder how they would have been in their days of glory as I feel they look glorious even now !!

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      I know! I wonder how the city would have looked in all its glory!

  6. Oh your photographs are wonderful telling a story of something lost. Thanks so much for sharing. There are so many places to visit in this world of ours.
    πŸ™‚

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Yes so many that it is almost impossible to visit everything

  7. akaimiko says:

    Over 200?! Wow…this is an impressive collection. I’m really impressed with your photographs, did you take these ahead of time for the post or that day?

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      These were taken ahead- when I visited Cambodia a few months ago.

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