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BAS RELIEF

A bas-relief (from the Italian basso rilievo) or low relief is the quality of an projecting image where the overall depth is shallow. The background is very compressed or completely flat, as on most coins, on which all images are in low-relief.

Bas-relief is very suitable for scenes with many figures and other elements such as a landscape or architectural background. A bas-relief may use any medium or technique of sculpture, but stone carving and metal casting are the traditional ones.

If more than 50% of most rounded or cylindrical elements such as heads and legs project from the background, a sculpture is usually considered to be "alto rilievo" or "high relief", although the degree of relief within both types may vary across a composition, with prominent features such as faces in higher relief.

Excerpt from wikipedia

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ANGKOR WAT

Angkor Wat ("City Temple") is a vast temple complex near Siem Reap, about 200 miles from the capital of Phnom Penh in Cambodia. Built in the 12th century by the king of the prosperous Khmer empire, Angkor Wat was built as a royal temple dedicated to a Hindu deity.

After the city of Angkor fell to invaders, Angkor Wat receded into the jungle but continued as a Buddhist temple and a pilgrimage site over the centuries.

Angkor Wat is the best preserved example of Khmer architecture in Cambodia and is so grand in design that some rank it among the seven wonders of the world. It appears on the Cambodian national flag, a very rare instance of a flag incorporating an image of a building.

The "lost city" of Angkor first attracted the interest of Europeans in the 1800s after Cambodia was colonized by the French. Today, Angkor Wat continues to draw thousands of visitors anxious to see this remarkable ancient temple in the jungle.

In addition to many tourists, Buddhist monks are daily visitors to Angkor Wat, their bright orange robes making a vivid contrast with the grey stone of the temple.

HistoryThe city of Angkor was the capital of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 15th centuries. The Khmer empire was one of the most prosperous and sophisticated kingdoms in the history of Southeast Asia, and its prosperity was expressed through a wide range of architecture.

The city of Angkor was founded on political and religious ideas adapted from India, and the temples of Angkor were intended as a place of worship for the king and a way for him to ensure his immortality through identification with the Hindu gods.

Angkor Wat was built by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century as a vast funerary temple that would hold his remains, symbolically confirming his permanent identity with Vishnu.

Many of the bas-reliefs in the temple depict scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, Hindu sacred texts that recount the adventures of two major incarnations of Vishnu.

During its six centuries as imperial capital, Angkor went through many changes in architectural styles and in religion. The city of Angkor transferred its from the Hindu god Shiva to the Hindu god Vishnu, and finally to the Mahayana Buddhist deity Avalokitesvara.

By the late 13th century, the once frenzied pace of Angkor's architectural pursuits had begun to die down, and a more restrained type of religion was on the rise under the growing influence of Theravada Buddhism.

At the same time, Angkor and the Khmer Empire were increasingly threatened and attacked by invading armies. By the 16th century, the golden age of Angkor was over and many of the great temples began to recede into the jungle.

From the 15th to 19th centuries, Theravada Buddhist monks cared for Angkor Wat, and it is thanks to them that the temple remains mostly intact. Angkor Wat became one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Southeast Asia.

European visitors to Cambodia towards the later end of this period were intrigued by the "lost city" of Angkor. After the French established a colonial regime in Cambodia in 1863, the entire site became a focus of scholarly interest.


Excerpt from sacred-destinations.com

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