The stone monarch is absolutely naked, his hair is plaited and he sits in the Javanese fashion. The legs are too short for the torso, and the forms, much too founded, lack the strong protuberances of manly muscles; but, however glaring are his defects, he has many beauties, and as a study of character he is perhaps the masterpiece of Khmer sculpture. Whilst his body is at rest his soul boils within him…. His features are full of passion, with thick lips, energetic chin, full cheeks, aquiline nose and clear brow … his mouth, slightly open, showing the teeth. This peculiarity of the teeth being shown in a smile is absolutely and strangely unique in Cambodian art.

Location: Immediately north of the Terrace of the Elephants
Access: From the main road
Date: End of the 12th century
King: Jayavarman VII (reigned 1181-1220)
Religion: Buddhist
Art style: Bayon

BACKGROUND

The Terrace of the Leper King carries on the theme of grandeur that characterizes the building during Jayavarman Vll’s reign. It is faced with dramatic bas-reliefs, both on the interior and exterior. During clearing, the EFEO found a second wall with bas-reliefs similar in composition to those of the outer wall. Some archaeologists believe that this second wall is evidence of a later addition to extend the terrace.

The original wall was only a metre-wide of laterite faced with sandstone. It collapsed and a second wall of the same materials, two metres wide, was built right in front of it without any of the rubble being cleared. Recently, the EFEO has created a false corridor which allows visitors to inspect the reliefs on the first wall.

LEPER KING

The curious name of this terrace refers to a statue of the Leper King that is on the platform of the terrace. The one you see today is a copy. The original is in the courtyard of the National Museum in Phnom Penh. The figure is depicted in a seated position with his right knee raised, a position some art historians consider to be Javanese-style. Its nakedness is unusual in Khmer art.

Who was the Leper King? Mystery and uncertainty surround the origin of the name. The long-held theory that Jayavarman VII was a leper and that is why he built so many hospitals throughout the empire has no historical support whatsoever.

Some historians think the figure represents Kubera, god of wealth, or Yasovarman I, both of whom were allegedly lepers. Another idea is based on an inscription that appears on the statue in characters of the 14th or 15th century which may be translated as the equivalent of the assessor of Yama, god of death or of judgment. Yet another theory suggests that the Leper King statue got its name because of the lichen 1 which grows on it. The position of the hand, now missing, also suggests it was holding something.

Cedes believes that most of the Khmer monuments were funerary temples and that the remains of kings were deposited there after cremation. He thinks, therefore, that the royal crematorium was located on the Terrace of the Leper King. The statue, then, represents the god of death and is properly situated on the terrace to serve this purpose. Yet another theory derives from a legend in a Cambodian chronicle that tells of a minister who refused to prostrate before the king, who hit him with his sword. Venomous spittle fell on the king, who then became a leper and was called I the Leper King thereafter.

LAYOUT

The Terrace of the Leper King is supported by a base 25 metres (92 feet) on each side and six metres (20 feet) in height. The sides of the laterite base are faced in sandstone and decorated with bas-reliefs divided into seven horizontal registers.

RELIEFS

Exterior wall: mythical beings – serpents, garudus and giants with multiple arms, carriers of swords and clubs, and seated women with naked torsos and triangular coiffures with small flaming discs – adorn the walls of the terrace. Interior wall: these reliefs are in remarkable condition. Walk along the corridor and enjoy a close up view of the deeply carved scenes arranged in registers. ‘The themes are similar to those on the exterior and include a low frieze of fish, elephants and the vertical representation of a river.


Preah Vihear: ‘Mountain of the sacred monastery

Location: 100 kilometres (62 miles) northeast of Siem Reap Access: Tip: Spectacular views of Cambodia and Thailand from the Dangrek Mountains Date: Construction probably began in the late ninth to early tenth centuries and continued in the mid-12th century King: begun by Yasovarman I

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Koh Ker

King Jayavarman IV ‘founded by his own power, a city which was the seat of the prosperities of the universe’. – From an inscription in Lawrence Briggs’  The ancient Khmer emplire, reprint, Bankok, White Lotus, 1999 Location: Approximately 3-4 hours from Siem Reap by Road. Take R

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Beng Mealea: ‘The Lotus Pool’

A trip to Beng Mealea, which in itself demands an entiie day, can be combined with a hunting party, since the region is rich in both small and large game and wild animals: tigers, panthers and elephants, herds of oxen and wild buffalo inhabit the forest as far as Prah Khan of Kampong

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Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, in its beauty and state of preservation, is unrivaled. Its mightiness and magnificence bespeak a pomp luxury surpassing that of a pharaoh or a shah Jaham, an impressiveness greater than that of the Pyramids, an artistic distinctiveness as fine as that of the Taj Mahal. Loc

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Bayon

We stand before it stunned. It is like nothing else in the land. Location: in the centre of the city of Angkor Thom, 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) from the south gate Access: enter from the east Date: late 12th century to early 13th century King: Jayavarman VII (reigned 1181-1120) Religion:

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Terrace of the Leper King

The stone monarch is absolutely naked, his hair is plaited and he sits in the Javanese fashion. The legs are too short for the torso, and the forms, much too founded, lack the strong protuberances of manly muscles; but, however glaring are his defects, he has many beauties, and as a s

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Terrace of the Elephants

An imperial hunt in the somber forests of the realm. There are formidable elephants…. The forest in which they travel is impenetrable to all but tiny creatures, able to squeeze their smallness between the fissures of the undergrowth, and to the biggest animals, which crush chasm

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Baphuon

North of the Golden Tower [Bayon] … rises the Tower of Bronze [Baphuon], higher even than the Golden Tower: a truly astonishing spectacle, with more than ten chambers at its base. Location: 200 metres (656 feet) north-west of the Bayon, and south of Phimeanakas Access: enter and

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Phimeanakas: ‘Aerial Palace’

Location: inside the enclosure walls of the Royal Palace Access: walk over the Terrace of Elephants and through the east gopura of the enclosure wall encircling the Royal Palace. You are on the principal access to the temple. Alternatively, follow the pathway between the two

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Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom is undeniably an expression of the highest genius. It is, in three dimensions and on a scale worthy of an entire nation, the materialization of Buddhist cosmology, representing ideas that only great painters would dare to portray…. Angkor Thom is not an architectural

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Ta Prom

Ta Prohm (Khmer: ប្រាសាទតាព្រហ្ម, pronunciation: prasat taprohm) is the modern name of the temple at Angkor, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, built in the Bayon style largely in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and originally called Rajavihara (in Khmer: រាជវិហារ)...


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Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei or Banteay Srey (Khmer: ប្រាសាទបន្ទាយស្រី) is a 10th-century Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Located in the area of Angkor in Cambodia.It lies near the hill of Phnom Dei, 25 km (16 mi) north-east of the main group of temples that once belonged to the medieval capitals of Yasodharapura and Angkor Thom...


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Preah Khan

Preah Khan (Khmer: ប្រាសាទព្រះខ័ន; "Royal Sword") is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia, built in the 12th century for King Jayavarman VII to honor his father.[1]:383–384,389[2]:174–176 It is located northeast of Angkor Thom and just west of the Jayatataka baray, with which it was associated...


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Neak Pean

Neak Pean was originally designed for medical purposes (the ancients believed that going into these pools would balance the elements in the bather, thus curing disease); it is one of the many hospitals that Jayavarman VII built. It is based on the ancient Hindu belief of balance...


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