Recently I re-scanned all of the 35mm photos I took during our trip to Angkor Wat to pretty good image quality tifs. From these, I was able to do good-enough post processing on them to make them look better than they’ve ever looked.
Here they are. I orignally posted many of these photos and more on my travel site – Angkor Wat page. I added commentary and information about the temples visited there, but I’ll be adding content here on separate posts. We followed Angkor (Odyssey Guides) during our 6 days there.
My partner and I visited Angkor Wat in November of 2001. We followed Dawn Rooney’s book for six days, visiting numerous wats. We’d go out with a driver early in the morning and come back for lunch, relax for a couple of hours and then head back out later in the afternoon and stay out until just before it got dark.
At the time I had a small 35mm film camera that I bought in the Singapore airport of all places, on the way in. I didn’t want to have to carry around my “large” Pentax K1000. In retrospect, I wish I had brought that lovely little camera along with me. It’s just a beautiful, tiny camera compared to today’s DSLRs. A couple of years ago I bought my first micro 4/3 camera, the Olympus OM-D EM-5 and it’s about the same size as my Pentax and I absolutely love it. Of course, now the EM-1 is out and I have to decide when it’s time to upgrade. I don’t think I’m quite ready yet.
But I digress! This is the first post I’ve added here since 2009. I can’t believe that it’s been 5 years. To begin this and future posts, I am beginning an Angkor Wat series of digital paintings from select photos taken on that trip in 2001. The painting I just completed is of a couple of young monks sitting together on the 2nd floor of the main Angkor Wat complex. I took the picture when we came back a second time in the early morning before the crowds came. I understand that’s hardly possible anymore. It felt so magical to be there and witness the early morning activities of the monks and nuns who seemed to be living there.
Angkor Wat is the mausoleum and temple for King Suryavarmin II built in the early 10th century. It is considered to be the largest religious complex in the world and was originally built as a temple to Vishnu.
Nagas are everywhere in Buddhist art and architecture.
In order to visit Angkor Thom in Cambodia, you need to walk across a bridge adorned on either side with the Naga balistrade. Here the Naga provides protection from the moat and linkage between heaven and earth. King Jayavarman VII, who reigned in Cambodia during the building of Bayon and Angkor Thom, among other major temples of the period late 12th to early 13th century. (See angkorwat.marlandc.com for a full set of Angkor Wat photos taken during my travels there in 2001.)
During my visit to the Prasart Museum in Bangkok (for more information on Prasart see earlier post), I took this picture of a sandstone carving which was originally the corner piece of a pediment at a temple in northeastern Thailand. It depicts a Naga emerging from the mouth of a Makara. According to a website, The Naga and Makara, the Makara is a creature combining the crocodile, the elephant and the serpent. This turns out to be a common theme among Naga carvings and sculptures throughout SE and Central Asia.
Cornerstone decorated with Naga, sandstone, Khmer, 11th century.
Another recurring story is that of Mucalinda, the serpent who protected Gautama or Sakyamuni Buddha while he was meditating in Bodh Gaya. It rained for a week, causing the waters to rise, but Mucalinda wrapped its coils beneath the Buddha to create a seat and covered his body with its seven heads to keep him dry.
Buddha meditating under Naga, Dambulla Cave Temples, Sri Lanka.
In Laos, the naga has a special place in Mekong River lore and daily life. At the end of Buddhist Lent, locals claim to witness a naga fireball rising from the river. As well, people sacrifice to the naga for protection from danger while traveling on the river.
Naga guarding temple entrance, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Naga stairway at Doi Suthep at Chiang Mai