Baphuon

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For the temple, see Prasat Baphuon


Short but sweet is probably a reasonable summary for the brief, mid to late-11th-century Baphuon period. The huge pyramid temple of Prasat Baphuon itself - developing the preceding Ta Keo style - was an architectural failure, in so far as the unstable structure is thought to have collapsed at a relatively early date but in its day must have been a remarkably impressive structure.

Pyramid temples were nothing new - even sandstone ones - although this was certainly the most ambitious so far, and the style's main area of innovation lies in its details and decoration. The long, raised entrance causeway with adjacent pools, was unlike anything seen before and is a direct precursor to what can be seen at Angkor Wat itself. While some historians do consider the causeway (or at least an extended version) to be a slightly later, early-12th-century addition, further, contemporary innovation can be seen in the carved reliefs. Not so much in terms of lintels and pediments, which were often conservative in design, but the numerous small wall panels featuring narrative scenes and figures from the Ramayana and Mahabharata were unique for their time. Again, these can be seen as precursors to the extended wall reliefs of the Angkor Wat and Bayon periods.

Udayadityavarman II was undoubtedly kept busy with his massive state temple and the West Mebon, Prasat Mebon Khang Lech, although a surprisingly large number of Thai sites have been assigned by the Thai Fine Arts Department to this period. It is our opinion that there is considerable overlap between the late Khleang - Suryavarman I - period and Baphuon style.

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