Preah Khan

Preah Khan, Angkor 2017

Previously, Preah Khan was known as Nagarajayashri – happy, victorious city. The modern name means ‘Holy Sword’ and refers to the National Shrine of the Khmer Empire, of which today a copy is kept in the Royal Palace of Phnom Penh.

Preah Khan was built by Jayavarman VII in 1184 and consecrated in 1191 to his father. Not only was Preah Khan a Buddhist sanctuary, but it also contained numerous shrines for Hindu cosmology gods, local spirits, royal ancestors and other deified people. With 102 Prasat and several stone buildings, it was a real city. The founding stele praises the gifts of villagers who supplied white rice daily and mentions 97,840 people who lived here. In addition to the royal foundations, Preah Khan was also a famous educational institution, modeled on large Indian Buddhist universities.

The relatively well-preserved complex is one of the most form-rich and important flat temples of the cultural area. In the 20th century began thorough restoration work. However, these could only affect the stone buildings, because, after almost a millennium, the wooden structures had disappeared.

 

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