Archive for Khmer

The Empire of Angkor

Posted in Countries, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2013 by Thim Kwai

The medieval empire of Angkor was the most significant state and civilization in Southeast Asia until today. It was remarkable above all for it’s architecture, represented in numerous monuments, and it’s cultural long-term influence in Southeast Asia until today.

But it was not only extraordinary for Southeast Asia. Angkor stands the comparison with the other great empires of world’s history. Angkor city was a huge, sophisticated urban center and is seen by historians as the greatest pre-modern city in history. It was home for up to a million people in it’s best times. A huge transport and irrigation infrastructure was part of it. The construction of Angkor Wat, the state temple, was a gigantic performance. The whole organization of the building site was a major challenge. It included the gain of the huge amount of stone materials from the Kulen quarries, the transport of all the many tons of stone over a distance of 40km to the building site, the workmanship into all the absolute precisely fitting single pieces, the procession of the materials surface into all the brilliant carvings. The building time of gigantic Angkor Wat lasted below 40 years. It is the largest religious building in the world. Compared with the European cathedrals it was built in a fraction of the time. Only the cathedral in Salisbury in England had such a short building time, but is a much smaller building. The construction of other cathedrals took normally between 200 and 300 years. The grand dome in Cologne in Germany was built in a timespan exceeding 650 years. In fact it’s still not completed. Well, in fact Angkor Wat isn’t fully completed either…

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘The Empire of Angkor’. Read here the whole article on The Empire of Angkor.

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Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

Funan, First Civilization of Southeast Asia

Posted in Countries, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2013 by Thim Kwai

The oldest civilization which became of overregional influence and left a somewhat greater amount of traces was Funan. Funan is seen as the first civilization in Southeast Asia. It can barely be seen as an empire, for it was probably rather an alliance of towns along the lower Mekong River delta than a centralized state. It later spread out it’s influence, stretching over greater parts of nowadays Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand until the borders of Burma/Myanmar and to the Isthmus of Kra. The parts of Funan far away from the Mekong delta were merely tributaries. Again, Funan was far away from being an integrated state, as the term ‘state’ in it’s modern version implies.

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Funan’. Read here the whole article on Angkor Wat.

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Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

Angkor Wat – Monument of Superlatives

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Sights with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Doubtlessly the grand temple monument of Angkor Wat is the best known building and tourist attraction in Southeast Asia. For many Angkor Wat is synonym with Angkor; though, Angkor was a whole city and even more an empire and as such much, much bigger than Angkor Wat, what merely means ‘city temple’, ‘state temple’ or ‘temple of Angkor’.

There are about a hundred more major temples in the wider area around Angkor Wat. One of them is the Bayon, another and significant different temple which is situated in Angkor Thom.

Angkor Wat is a sight of superlatives. It’s the biggest religious monument in the world, the most visited sight in Southeast Asia, the best-preserved of the whole Angkor site, the most impressive monument for most of the visitors, the only religious site of whole Angkor which remained a significant religious center since it’s foundation until today, it represents the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture, it’s the symbol for Cambodia since 1863 and decorates the national flag of Cambodia, and maybe there is more to add…

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Angkor Wat’. Read here the whole article on Angkor Wat.

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Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

Phimai / Thailand

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Sights with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2013 by Thim Kwai

In the heart of Phimai, a small town in Thailand’s northeastern Isan region, one of the most remarkable Angkorean cultural heritages outside Angkor itself is situated: Prasat Phimai. In 1936 it was set under protection by the Thai government and became step by step restaurated from the 1950s on. ‘Phimai Historical Park’ was opened in 1989.

Phimai town is a medieval Khmer foundation, became the first time fortificated in the 11th century and advanced to a spiritual center of the classical empire of Angkor. In the reign of king Jayavarman VII (1181-1206/1220 CE) the city walls and gates so far they remain now were constructed. The town’s name is derivated fro ‘Vimayapura’ or ‘Vimai’. The contemporary official name of the site is ‘Prasat Hin Phi Mai’.

Historical Phimai has a considerable size. The inner temple district is a rectangular of 83m to 74m, the middle district measures 272m to 220m and the surrounding town, which was formerly completely enclosed by the city wall, stretches over 665m to 1033m. Phimai must have been one of the most important cities in the Angkorean empire.

The central temple complex is not exactly aligned onto the north-south axis, but by 20 degree turned to southeast. It’s probably done to give it the direction facing to Angkor.

At the northern end of Phimai is a national museum placed, which displays a number of the site’s artefacts as lintels, Buddha images, nagas, pottery and jewellery.

Prasat Phimai is considered to be the most important Khmer monument in Thailand.

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Phimai’. Read the whole article on Phimai by Asienreisender.

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Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

Cambodia

Posted in Countries, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , , on June 8, 2013 by Thim Kwai

According to official statistics are 85% to 90% of the Cambodian inhabitants ethnic Khmer. That would make Cambodia the ethnically most homogenous country in Southeast Asia. Minorities are Vietnamese (5%), Cham (3%), Chinese (ca. 1%) and some Thai, Laotians and a number of hill tribal people who are collectively called Khmer Loeu (formerly Moi). Critics claim that the official numbers of the minorities are given a too small.

The Khmer People live since the 2nd century in the areas where they still live today. Where they are exactly from is not completely known, but they can hardly deny some Indian roots in their physical appearance.

Vietnamese live since the late 17th century in Cambodia, more came in the 19th and 20th. Many were promoted by the French colonial authorities who prefered them in official positions. After the Vietnames occupation between 1979 and 1989 another Vietnamese immigration wave came to Cambodia. There are old conflicts between the Khmer and the Vietnamese, which sometimes errupted in anti-Vietnamese pogroms.

Chinese live since some 500 years in Cambodia particularly in the cities as traders and craftsmen. Until 1975 Chinese controlled the economy and the traffic system of the country, but they got persecuted by the Khmer Rouge and many of them killed, so far they couldn’t escape. Since the early 1990s Chinese came back and gained meanwhile again an important economic role.

The Cham People are of Malayan roots and Muslims. They live along the lower Mekong River. Between Kratie and Kampong Cham / Phnom Phen are many mosques to see along the road. Their old empire, a long-term rival of the Angkorean Khmer empire, was destroyed by the Vietnamese in 1471 and part of the Cham fled then into Cambodia. Traditionally they are cattle dealers, butchers and silk weavers. Butching, by the way, is for the Buddhist Khmer according to the Buddhist rules, not allowed.

The Khmer Loeu are old Tai People who live in the mountainous regions bordering Vietnam and Thailand. They live traditionally half-nomadic, grow rice and vegetables, cultivate a sustainable slash-and-burn agriculture, keep cattle and are animists. Their livestyles are very much under pressure now due to the loss of their natural surroundings (see the description on the Ratanakiri page).

The majority of the Cambodian people live in the plains, the mountainous areas are partially almost uninhabited. Only 20% of the population lives in the cities; that’s still an aftereffect of the Khmer Rouge politics, who evacuated the cities.

This is just part of the ‘People of Cambodia’ chapter of the whole article. Read the whole article on Cambodia.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender