The Early History of Angkor

   Continued from the Churning of the Sea of Milk and the Fertility of Angkor

MERA: In Cambodia history and religion are intimately connected.  (She smiles at the audience, but in Apsara tradition without showing her teeth.)  Indeed can history or religion be true without the other?  What do you think?

Kambu enters again, but he has made a quick change and now he is vested in a king's robes to become King Jayavarman II. He is joined by a Brahmin priest, retainers, the Queen, concubines, apsaras and retainers.  (I need to research how we mime this.  There may be an appropriate coronation dance)

Music 8.  Coronation Music.
MAHA EYSEI: So let us travel back in time to the beginning of the first great age of Cambodia. In AD 802 King Jayavarman II, occupied the Kulen hills to the north of Angkor.  Here by the Brahmin, the holy Hindu priest, Jayavarman was proclaimed:
BRAHMIN PRIEST: Chakravartin !
MAHA EYSEI: Universal Monarch. Some believe he came from Java in present day Indonesia; others that he came from the Cham people in present day Vietnam.
JAYAVARMAN II My name, Jayavarman, means "protected by victory".  I have conquered many peoples.
MAHA EYSEI: He later established himself at Hariharalaya, dedicated both to Shiva and to Vishnu.  This was 13 kilometres east of Angkor at present day Ruluos.

Jayavarman leaves the stage (to make another change of costume) Indravarman, another warrior-like king appears.  These Kings should be majestic and spectacular, so that this section does not seem like a history lesson.  The Brahmin takes up the story

BRAHMIN: There his nephew Indravarman, meaning protected by the God Indra, was to fulfill three conditions of royalty.  On ascending the throne he proclaimed:
INDRAVARMAN: In five days I shall begin to dig a great lake.

Back projection stills of a great Baray, of Preah Ko and of Bakong in time with following:

BRAHMIN: So first he built Indratataka, the first great Baray or inland sea, to surround Mount Meru, the mythical home of the Gods.
INDRAVARMAN: And then I shall build a temple to Shiva.
MAHA EYSEI: Secondly in 880 AD he built Preah Ko, an ancestral temple dedicated to Shiva.  Shiva was also the title of his uncle Jayavarman II after his death.  Thus the Kings are seen as becoming Gods.
INDRAVARMAN: And I shall build Bakong.
BRAHMIN: And finally he built Bakong, the first great temple mountain, the stairway to heaven, where the cult of the God King was practiced.
Music 8.  Martial Arts Dance

We hear the sound of a fierce battle.  If we have time we have a martial arts display, which can also weave in and out of the ensuing battles.

BRAHMIN: Indravarman made many conquests.  In battle, which is like a difficult ocean to cross, this lion among kings raised a pathway, made up of the heads of his arrogant enemies; his troops passed over it.

Back projection showing demons losing a battle from the south side of Bakong temple's fourth tier.

MAHA EYSEI: The King was a God and of course his enemies, either Thais or the Cham people from South Vietnam were seen as Asuras or demons.  His dominions extended into North east Thailand where an inscription tells us he was "a lion among kings".

Indravarman leaves the stage.

The play continues with:

The Building of the Royal Palace and the King's Seduction by the Naga Princess

© 2013 Shaun MacLoughlin

If you are interested in this project, please contact Shaun MacLoughlin 

   Introduction to The Flying Palaces of Angkor

   Home Page

we recommend the following books which helped with our rersearch: