Thala Borivat

From Beyond Angkor
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Thala Borivat architectural style is named after a group of early temple sites situated in the district of the same name in what is today northern Cambodia's Stung Treng Province. The temples are predominantly in a ruined condition with the defining relics consisting of a series of lintels (5 in total) housed in the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. The dating is compatible with the early Sambor Prei Kuk period - 6th-early 7th centuries - but due to their unique style and the geographical distance between the sites - many archaeologists place these reliefs in a category of their own.

In so far as the early Sambor Prei Kuk kings - Bhavavarman I and Mahendravarman - originated from the Wat Phu area, (slightly north of Thala Borivat in present-day southern Laos), before establishing a settlement on the site of Sambor Prei Kuk, these 2 monarchs could conceivably fit into either category. Due to lack of alternatives we've also included Bhavavarman I's mid-to-late-6th-century site of Kuk Preah Theat (Hanchey), as well as other similar 'flat-pack style' sites dating from the same period. These unique constructions, made with massive slotted together slabs of basalt or sandstone can also be seen at Prasat Sambor (Sambor) (N20), Prasat Asram Moha Russei and a ruined shrine at Wat Phu itself.

Surprisingly, some of the only other well-preserved Thala Borivat reliefs were uncovered at Noen Paniat and Wat Bon, both in Thailand's Chanthaburi Province. The former site represents an important early port on the Southeast Asia-India trading route although the precise 6th-century connection between what is today northern Cambodia and southeastern Thailand remains to be determined. (An additional Thala Borivat-style lintel can still be seen in situ at the little-known site of Wat Phu Khao Kaew on Khong Island in far southern Laos.)

The lintels themselves are unusual and distinctive, featuring large makara faces on each side with a decorative arch issuing from their mouths containing a small central figure in an oval frame. (The identity is not always clear but both Garuda and Surya feature.)

Map Keys
Large Prasat
Large Prasats
Large Ruin
Large Ruins
Medium Prasat
Medium Prasats
Ancient Bridge
Ancient Bridges
Medium Ruin
Medium Ruins
Ancient City
Ancient Cities
Medium Tuol
Medium Tuols
Ancient Kiln
Ancient Kilns
Small Prasats
Ancient Quarry
Ancient Quarries
Small Ruin
Small Ruins
Ancient Reservoir
Ancient Reservoirs
Small Tuol
Small Tuols
Ancient Village
Ancient Villages
Other Structures
Other Structures
Prehistoric Sites
Neak Ta
Neak Ta's
Unknown Sites
Unconfirmed Sites