The Temple, Tomb and Observatory of Angkor Wat

   Continued from The Boy Who Would Be King

A series of back projections of Angkor Wat, illustrate the following.

MAHA EYSEI: Meanwhile Suryavarman's devotion to Vishnu led him to commission the most beautiful, the most mysterious of the monuments of Angkor, the temple, tomb and observatory now known as Angkor Wat.  This was completed after his fifty year reign in 1150.  (He smiles)  You will realise by now that there are many accounts of the creation of this the largest religious building in the world.
Angkor Wat
Picture 15: Angkor Wat, the largest religious building in the world.

BRAHMIN PRIEST: Here the Khmers built a tower to reach the throne of God.  Visitors enter from the West, the direction of death; but by walking east towards Mount Meru, the shrine of Vishnu, they move back towards the beginning of time.
MAHA EYSEI: We believe the Khmers can never die while the towers of Angkor Wat reach up towards the low hanging stars.
BRAHMIN PRIEST: Before laying the foundations, excavation was made to a considerable depth and filled with sand.  The temple is spiritually activated by being built on 'pure' soil.  And it is surrounded by holy water.
MAHA EYSEI: Anything that was not to honour the gods was built of wood or perishable material.  Even the king's palace; because men's bodies are mortal and will cease to exist one day.
BRAHMIN: The Gods however are immortal and thus stone is used to honour them forever.
MAHA EYSEI: And its thousands of metres of carvings told the history of the Khmer people, their tribulations, their battles, their victories, their ceremonies, their daily life - and often it told these in the form of stories from Indian mythology as adapted by the Khmers.

On the back projection show some carvings that show the story of the Reamker.

MAHA EYSEI: Let us take for example the story of the Reamker.  It is depicted on the walls of Angkor Wat and later on the walls of the Bayon another great temple.
Music 11 for Shadow Puppet performance of Reamker

The following speeches will be interwoven with highlights from the Shadow puppet performance of the Reamker and with Khmer Classic drama-dance and with back projections of reliefs of the Story of Rama from Angkor Wat and from the Bayon.  Note the speeches may be modified in the light of the drama dance.

BRAHMIN PRIEST: The Reamker is the Cambodian version of the Indian Epic the Ramayana, which tells of the triumph of good over evil.  According to a 7th Century inscription many Cambodians recited the Reamker every day.

During the following speech start with a shadow puppet, then a couple of dancers wearing masks, who then remove them.

MAHA EYSEI: In ancient times performers did not dare to show their bodies to the public.  First they used shadow puppets.  Then they wore masks.  Finally they dared truly to reveal themselves and to act on stage.

The play continues with: Jayavarman VII

© 2013 Shaun MacLoughlin

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

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