Synopses & Reviews
Legendary tales of kings and princes, wars, conquests, and unions with gods and goddesses--all these are portrayed in the spectacular friezes, reliefs, and stone carvings for which Cambodia has become justly renowned. The enormous variety of styles and influences, both sacred and secular, that are expressed in Cambodian art make this one of the most surprising and rewarding of all Southeast Asian cultures. Our understanding of the Khmers, whose kingdom dates back to early in the first millennium, is drawn from written Chinese records, myths recorded in Sanskrit, and the evidence revealed by research and exploration that continues to the present day. The profound and lasting influence of India on Khmer culture is evident in Cambodia's religious architecture, principally Hindu and Buddhist temples; each faith is reflected in work of remarkable vigor and exceptional grace and beauty. French archaeologists in the nineteenth century reopened the doors onto this world. Still more remarkable, perhaps, is how much has survived through generations of determined looting and political conflict. These persistent features of Cambodia's history make the richness and fragility of its architectural and artistic legacy strikingly apparent. World-famous sites, such as Angkor Wat and Preah Vihear, breathtaking monuments in their own right, have tended to overshadow a wealth of lesser-known buildings and complexes buried deep in the jungle. Many remarkable photographs are published here for the first time, of both famous sites and those that have, until now, been almost impossible to see, for both geographical and political reasons.
An essential, authoritative and up-to-date introduction to Cambodian art, and a vivid glimpse into a world that continues to challenge the most intrepid visitor.
About the Author
Helen Ibbitson Jessup is an independent scholar and curator specializing in the art and architecture of Southeast Asia.