Saturday, January 12, 2008

Churning at Ta Prohm

The Churning of the Ocean of Milk at the eastern entrance to Ta Prohm
The Churning of the Ocean of Milk is often depicted in ancient Khmer iconography and is twice represented at the Ta Prohm in Tonle Bati. The more dramatic of the two is lying on the ground at the eastern entraceway to the temple. The second depiction can be found above the north-western false window, but is far more minimal in its detail. Both tell the tale of the elixir of immortality, needed by the gods to bring stability to the world. The asuras and devas are pulling the naga Vasuki, twisted around Mount Mandara, which is perched on the back of the tortoise Kurma, while Indra sits atop the mountain, applying suitable pressure. Vishnu oversees the whole scene. This spinning of the mountain produces the churning for 1,000 years, and eventually, the magical elixir called amrita. Well that's the textbook detail of the narrative. I'm always fascinated by the craftmanship and incredible detail that you find on lintels such as these. The most famous depiction of the Churning scene is at Angkor Wat but can also be found at other temples such as Banteay Chhmar, Preah Vihear, Banteay Samre and many more.

The more minimal Churning scene on the north westen wall of the central sanctuary

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