Sunday, January 13, 2008


The dying Buddha reaches Mahaparinirvana at Ta Prohm
There are many unusual scenes depicted on the walls, pediments and lintels of Prasat Ta Prohm at Tonle Bati. There's the woman condemned to carry a box on her head for the rest of her life which contains the afterbirth of her newborn child and in another relief, the King has his wife trampled to death by a horse for her unfaithfulness. The most striking relief with the most colour is the one above. Its located above the doorway of the main eastern entrance of the central sanctuary. This remarkable lintel shows the Mahaparinirvana, the dead or dying Buddha reclining on his right side with his head raised on pillows, flanked by two mourning acolytes. The pediment above is decorated with a pyramidal sequence of lotus petals which protects Buddha under a three-tier parasol. The style of the relief, according to the experts, is from the 16th century, so was added maybe three centuries after the temple's construction, while the painting was completed even later. For the record, Buddha's last words were: "All things are perishable; work diligently on your own salvation." You don't read that in a guidebook!

The east gate to Ta Prohm's central sanctuary, showing the dying Buddha lintel

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