Rethinking regional relations with Angkor in the 15th century: The story of the Bayon Buddha, 30 mars

Le prochain séminaire de l’EFEO Paris a lieu le lundi 30 mars (11h-12h30), intervention de Martin Polkinghorne (université de Sydney) sur le thème « Rethinking regional relations with Angkor in the 15th century: The story of the Bayon Buddha » à la Maison de l’Asie (22, avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris, salon du 1er étage).

When the École française d’Extrême-Orient excavated an enormous image of the Buddha seated on a nāga inside the central shrine of the Bayon it was immediately celebrated as the central image of Jayavarman VII’s Angkor Thom. Little attention was paid to the head of another Buddha image that we now identify as early Ayutthayan. This small image reveals much about Angkor in the 15th century and beyond. 1431 / 1432 CE is often cited as the date at which Angkor was abandoned, but our knowledge of this event is based on fragmentary chronicular evidence that has been little understood. The recognition of the small Buddha head as early Ayutthayan and identification of over forty other images of this type are arguably the first material evidence of the 12 to 15 year Ayutthayan occupation at Angkor. Reappraisal of the large Bayon Buddha, a late 12th century image, suggests that it was restored after the 15th century, and one of many similar deeds of piety as Angkor became a hub of regional Theravāda Buddhist pilgrimage. If the Bayon Buddha was dumped into a looters pit after its renovation can we question its part the so-called iconoclasm purported to have occurred in the 13th century?

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