How to Get Stone-Faced Looks

Posted by - August 30, 2011 | Category: Asia, Cambodia, Escapes

From a distance, the Temple of Bayon in Angkor, Cambodia looks like a pile of rubble.  But as you get closer, you realize the rubble is staring back at you.

There are 216 smiling faces of Avalokeshvara (he’s a Buddha-to-be) at Bayon.  Built by Jayavarman VII (he was a king) around 1200 for Sri Jayarajacudamani (that’s his Mom), the temple was the last one to be built at Angkor – smack-dab in the middle of the ancient city.

The four great stone faces of each of the 54 towers represent The Four Immeasurables, also known as the Brahmavihāras, which are the virtues of:

  • Love
  • Compassion
  • Appreciative Joy
  • Equanamity

216 smiling stone faces for your mother?  And I have trouble remembering to send a Mother’s Day card.  Plenty of stone faces from her in that case.

Avalokeshvara faces, Bayon, Angkor, Cambodia


Bayon Temple, Angkor, Cambodia


Black and White Faces of Avalokeshvara, Bayon, Angkor, Cambodia


Face of Avalokeshvara, Bayon, Angkor, Cambodia


Close-up Face of Avalokeshvara, Bayon, Angkor, Cambodia


Temple Faces of Avalokeshvara, Bayon, Angkor


More Faces of Avalokeshvara, Bayon, Angkor, Cambodia


Faces of Avalokeshvara, Bayon, Angkor, Cambodia (2)


Bayon, Angkor, Cambodia

There are also well over 11,000 bas-relief figures carved into the stone walls.

Bas-relief dancing figures, Bayon, Angkor, Cambodia


Dancing bas-relief, Bayon, Angkor, Cambodia


Female figure,  Bayon, Angkor, Cambodia

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47 comments - add one
  1. Haha that’s funny. So interesting!! We just don’t have anything close to that in our culture, that much of anything dedicated to someone’s mom… You’re funny.

  2. Difficult (especially on a bright day) to get the contrast, contours and make the faces really shine. Your photos are great. Thnx

  3. Fascinating! Faces are the best things to carve on stones, right? I especially love the one where the two were touching at the knees. Its comical, but it still fits-in. Definitely much nicer to look at than a lot of the more morbid carvings from other civilizations.

  4. You know I really hate to say this but I visited about 5 years ago and didn’t take the time to learn the significance.

    I wish I had because while I was taken away by the size of it all, it would have been nice to understand why it was created.

  5. I wonder when I get to visit such a place. These are actually great shots. It is great that you got to visit there in such a good weather. It added beauty to the pictures. I giggled on the comment about the statue’s boobs being lucky.


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