The Religious Symbolism and Architecture of Angkor Wat and Borobudur

1634 Words Dec 11th, 2010 7 Pages
Introduction
Built by the Khmers between 802 and 1220 AD, the ancient temples of Angkor Wat exist as the remaining relics of a historically and religiously rich city. While many other historical and religious structures in Cambodia have disappeared due in part from being constructed out of vulnerable materials like wood, Angkor Wat still remains as a symbol of the divinity of its former kings, as well as for the palace itself. Likewise, Indonesia’s Borodubur temples exist as the single remaining structures of the city. The temples of Angkor Wat and Borodubur hold several similarities within architecture and symbolism, both being heavily based on religious belief. However, different features within both structures, architecturally and
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Decorative elements through out the towers and galleries present their own characteristics and fulfill specific needs within the temple. The towers are formed into the shape of the ever-popular lotus buds, and the galleries are used to expand the many passageways of the temple. Also, the axial galleries within the temple are used to connect several enclosures. Characteristic decorative components of Angkor Wat include narrative and historical bas-reliefs, pediments, and devatas. The bas-reliefs located in the gallery of Angkor Wat holds a special signification for Angkor Wat. The gallery displays heaven and the underworld in which garudas and lions are holding the celestial palaces. These gerudas indicate that the palaces were floating in heaven, comparing Angkor Wat to the palaces of the Gods. This display furthers the idea that Angkor Wat acts as a liason between the world of Heaven and Earth. Because the palace physically remains on earth but spiritually resides within heaven, the palace acts as communal place for believers to gather.
The bas-reliefs and pictures did not only serve to decorate the palaces, or depict stories of the past. They hold the important task of transforming the palace into a “celestial dwelling” or heavenly place. Further evidence to support this notion is