Phnom Penh, Cambodia Overview

Phnom Penh, Cambodia Overview

According to abbreviationfinder, Phnom Penh [pn ɔ m pεn], is the capital of Cambodia, 10 m above sea level, on the Mekong (2008) 1.2 million residents.

University, technical center; National Museum, Royal Palace Museum, Army Museum; Radio and television broadcasters; Textile, food industry, tire factory; private small and partly tourism industry. The port, 280 km from the Mekong estuary, can also be reached by seagoing vessels with a draft of up to about 5 m; Pochentong international airport.

The temple precinct (15th century) is located on a raised hill; at Tonle Sap the royal palace with the silver pagoda and the palace museum from the beginning of the 20th century.

The city became the residence of the Khmer kings in 1434 instead of Angkor, abandoned at the beginning of the 16th century and only capital of the country now under French protectorate again in 1867. After the conquest of Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge on April 17, 1975, a large part of the urban population was forcibly deported to rural areas; on January 7, 1979, Vietnamese troops took the city. The city, which was heavily decayed and depopulated under the reign of terror of the Khmer Rouge, was only gradually restored under the Cambodian government installed by Vietnam; this development was only accelerated in connection with the UN interim administration (1992–93) and the subsequent assumption of office by an elected Cambodian coalition government; In 1993 the city also became the seat of the re-established monarchy (establishment of Norodom Sihanouk as King). In 1997, Phnom Penh was again the scene of military power struggles (Cambodia, history).

Khmer arts

Khmer art, the historical art of the Khmer in present-day Cambodia and in northeastern Thailand.

The Khmer initially adopted the art of Funan; At the beginning of the 7th century, the Hindu temple complex of Sambor Prei Kuk, a cult center of the capital Ishanapura of the kingdom of Zhenla, was built (UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2017), the first independent forms of expression of Khmer art in tower sanctuaries (Prasat) with cult image. Erected from bricks over a square or rectangular floor plan, they had stepped tower structures with cantilever vaults on the inside; the brick walls were covered with painted stucco. Door and window frames, columns and lintels were made of sandstone in relief. The style of Prasat Andet (2nd half of the 7th century) is considered to be the highlight of Zhenla’s pre-Angkorian sculpture. The sculptural round, arched, mostly Hindu statues have slender bodies with natural, finely modeled muscles and softly draped robes that hug the body. Buddhist stone sculptures and bronzes (from the beginning of the 7th century) are of outstanding quality. In the 9th With the Bakong in Roluos (consecrated in 881), the building type of the five-tier temple mountain appears for the first time in the 19th century, which remained dominant in Angkor until the 13th century. The architecture implements Indian cosmological ideas: the five steps symbolize the five-peaked Mount Meru, the center of the world and seat of the gods. Door lintels and door reveals made of sandstone, often provided with dated inscriptions, were of central importance for the building decoration. The supporting arch around the round sculpture was abandoned. The most important building from the end of the 9th century is the five-tier Phnom Bakheng. Its floor plan and the 108 shrines in addition to the main shrine symbolize the universe. His sculptures follow a strict, hierarchical style.

A special feature is the small temple complex of Banteay Srei (967) with its perfect architecture and the high artistic quality of its reliefs, on which scenic representations appear for the first time, especially episodes from the Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana; In addition, highly imaginative plant and figurative decor. An important building of the 11th century is the five-tier Temple Mount of Baphuon, whose reliefs and sculptures show a lively and elegant style. Phimai (beginning of the 12th century) in present-day Thailand proves the spread of Mahayana Buddhism, which gained great importance in Angkor at the end of the 12th century.

The most extensive, still very well-preserved temple complex in the classic Khmer style is the three-tier Angkor Vat (1113–50). It represents the perfection of Khmer architecture from the three basic elements: stepped terraces, circumferential galleries and tower sanctuaries. All vaults were carried out in a cantilever construction. The narrative bas-reliefs in the lower gallery with scenes from Indian mythology are unique. The last significant monument of the Angkor period (9th – 15th centuries) is the Bayon temple (end of the 12th / beginning of the 13th century) with its face towers and bas-reliefs. It forms the center of the city of Angkor Thom (Angkor), whose monumental symbolism with the streets of the giants and Nagain front of the four gates belong to the most amazing creations of the Khmer art.

In the sculpture of this time, portrait statues of royal persons, especially Jayavarman VII, appear as the embodiment of Buddhist ideals. The Bayon style is characterized by soft facial features and an internalized smile. The statues often feature the motif of the Buddha sitting on the snake throne, the most important mahayana Buddhist icon of the Khmer. It represents the primordial, cosmic force. No buildings from the 13th and 14th centuries have survived, only sculptures; after the adoption of Theravada Buddhism, they show above all the Buddha Sakyamuni or scenes from his life.

In addition to architecture and sculpture, a highly developed bronze art has been handed down since the 7th century. Their stylistic features correspond to those of the stone sculptures, but their iconography often has its own features.

Another example of exceptional Khmer art is the Preah Vihear temple in the border area between Cambodia and Thailand, built in the first half of the 11th century as a Hindu temple on a plateau from which there is a spectacular view over the wide plain in the south. Its architecture is adapted to the natural environment and the religious function (natural temple mount with a sanctuary at the end); the artistically designed stone ornaments are a specialty. In 2008 the temple complex was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia Overview

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