Prasat Neak Pean

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Prasat Neak Pean
Native Nameប្រាសាទ​នាគព័ន្ធ
Alternative namePrasat Neak Poun, Prasat Neak Poin, Neak Pean
K InscriptionK.564, K.565, K.797, K.883, K.959
Inscr. LocationIn situ
Part ofVeal Reach Dak, Prasat Preah Khan, Yasodharapura III, Angkor
VillageLeang Dai
CommuneNokor Thom
DistrictSiem Reap Municipality
ProvinceSiem Reap
Coordinates13.46331, 103.89493
FoundedLate 12th Century
BuilderJayavarman VII
Art StyleBayon
Year/s Restored1938-39, 1956
UNESCO Inscription1992

413 Prasat Neak Pean 1.jpg
(2 votes)

Site Size & Condition: Medium Prasat Prasat Neak Pean (ប្រាសាទ​នាគព័ន្ធ - Pronounced: Pra-saht Ne'ak P'oine) is technically a 'Mebon' style temple as it sits on an artificial island in the centre of a man-made reservoir - in this case, Jayavarman VII's Jayatataka Baray or Veal Reach Dak. However this small to medium-sized site is not only unique as Mebons go but is unique in style to any other known Angkor temple.

A central, sandstone tower is sited on a round stepped base, representing a pair of coiled nagas, within a 70m square pond enclosed by steps and linked by an eastern causeway. At the 4 cardinal points are small chapels which in turn give on to 4 additional small ponds, again lined by sandstone. (The causeway linking the site to the northern side of the baray is a recently added access way.)

It's been suggested that the temple represents Anavatapta - a mythical Himalayan lake that is also associated with a pair of nagas - and which is said to cure all sicknesses. In that respect, Neak Pean is something of an Angkor 'spa' and while not a hospital chapel as such, was clearly related to health and healing. The 4 secondary shrines and ponds are thought to represent water, earth, fire and wind and conduits connecting them to the central pool are carved in the form of the '4 Great Animals'; elephant, bull, horse, and lion (North, east, south and west respectively.) (In this case, for reasons unknown, a human head replaces the bull's.) A free-standing statue of Balaha, the horse and avatar of Lokeshvara, is the only remaining one of an original 4.

A fascinating, picturesque and highly unusual site.

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