Angkor temples in the 1960’s, a family album
My parents met in Montpellier, France, in the early sixties as my father had a scholarship offered by the French government to study Biology. They married three years later and my mother moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the week after the wedding in 1964. She was originally from a small village of the South of France and had not finished her literature studies but was ready for the adventure. In these days, you would be flying an Air France Caravelle aircraft with 2 transits, either in Tel Aviv and Colombo, or Beyrouth and Teheran, or via the North Pole with a stopover in Tokyo.
It did not stop my grand parents from visiting us in 1966, a few months after my birth.
They took beautiful photos of their trip to Angkor that I would like to share with you.
My mother at the Bayon. The photo is today in the entrance corridor of the Maison.
The Bayon was built in the late 12th or early 13th century by King Jayavarman VII, as a buddhist temple. It stands in the center of Jayavarman city, Angkor Thom.
The upper terrace of the Bayon temple with the 216 stone faces that strike you with the serenity of their smile and the beauty of their lips. The thing is you can recognize this smile and beautiful heavy lips on Cambodian men around Angkor!
The bas reliefs of the Bayon temple are impressive and account for daily life sceneries as well as mythology and historical events.
My mother, climbing to the upper tower of Angkor Wat ( now forbidden to the public)
Angkor Wat is a temple dedicated to Vishnu and built in the early 12th century by King Suryavarman. It is considered as the largest Hindu monument in the world and became the symbol of Cambodia. Its 5 towers are on the Cambodian flag.
Angkor Wat and its reflection on the pond.
My French grand parents below the Apsaras of Angkor Wat and their guide.
Sapho Marchal, the daughter of a conservator, made an inventory of the thousand Apsaras of Angkor Wat, detailing the diversity of their hair style, jewelry and clothes.
My parents in front of the elephant terrace, North of the Bayon.
The South door of Angkor Thom, with the god and the demons carrying a 7 heads naga. The statues heads are original on that photo but are now kept in the Angkor Conservation in Siem Reap, located just a few hundred meters away from Maison Polanka. The doors are 23 meters high with on both sides beautiful carving of elephants holding lotus flowers. Angkor Thom city has 5 doors, and the South door is the most famous. It is surrounded by a moat.
My Cambodian grand-mother in Banteay Srei
Bantey Srei is a 10th century temple dedicated to Siva and renowned for its intricate carvings and pink stone. It is one hour away from Siem Reap by car. The statues of the guards on the photo have been removed for safety reasons by replicas.
The pediments ( the triangle shaped by stones) of Bantey Srei depict scenes of mythology and the lintels ( the horizontal beams) are beautifully carved. As you see they were alone in the temples, and this can still be possible, especially in Bantey Srei after 5 pm!