Angkor Temple Glossary

Acarya
Spiritual guide, teacher, instructor of religious mysteries.
-aditya
Rising sun (suffix) .
Airavata
Multi-headed elephant; India's vehicle.
Amitabha
The "Father" Buddha (Mahayana Buddhism). In Khmer art a seated Buddha meditating; depicted on the headdress of a bodhisattva.
Amrita
The drink of immortality that was created by the Churning of the Ocean of Milk.
Ananta
see Vasuki.
Anastylosis
Method of restoring a monument; can imply dismantling and rebuilding the structure using the original methods and materials.
Angkor
From the Sanskrit nagara (holy city). In Thai is nakhon and in Cham nagar. Ancient capital in Cambodia: was the main centre of the Khmer Empire from AD 802 to 1432.
Angkor Thom
The 'great' city. Built by Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century. It is positioned north of Angkor Wat (the temple of the Bayon at its centre). At its peak this was the largest city in the world and the centre of a great empire.
Apsara
Sanskrit for a heavenly female dancer attentive to kings, gods and heroes.
Ashrama
A retreat for ascetics or hermits who devote themselves to preparing for the next life.
Asura
Demon, enemy of the gods, with god-like power that represents the forces of evil.
Avalokiteshvara
('the Lord who looks down from above') (see Lokesvara).
Avatar
Sanskrit term for the incarnation of a deity in a different form. Refers to the descent of Vishnu (reincarnation) .
Balarama
The elder twin brother of Krishna; Vishnu's eighth avatara .
Baluster
Short posts or pillars that support a rail and forms a balustrade.
Banteay
Fortress or citadel. It has been applied to temples because of their encircling walls.
Baray
Sanskrit for reservoir, lake.
Bas-relief
Sculpture in low relief. The figures project less than half the true proportions from the background.
Bodhi tree
Enlightenment tree: Buddha became enlightened while meditating under it.
Bodhisattva
('Enlightenment Being') In Mahayana Buddhism, a potential Buddah who postpones his nirvana to stay on earth to help mankind achieve enlightenment.
Boeng
lake.
Brahma
God part of a trinity with Shiva and Vishnu. The creator of the world and universe.
Brahmin
The priestly class in Vedism and Hinduism.
Brahmanism
The early religion of India that emanated from Vedism.
Buddha
Compassionate being who has attained spiritual enlightenment. Gautama Siddhartha was the first Buddha, he lived in the sixth century BC.
Buddhism
The Buddhist religion that adheres to the basic principles of non-violence, compassion, and generous works.
Chakravartin
Universal sovereign; a title for the supreme king or universal overlord. From the Sankrit term for one who turns the wheel of the law.
Cambodia
South-east Asia country, bounded by Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and the Gulf of Thailand.
Causeway
Raised road.
Chakra
The "wheel" of the Buddha symbol of immortality and power; solar-disc; disc-like weapon of Vishnu
Champa
An ancient Indianised state and rival of the Khmer Empire. It was situated in an area corresponding approximately to present-day south and central Vietnam. It existed from the second century to the fifteenth century. the Chams A people speaking an Austronesian language who occupied southern coastal Vietnam and were often enganged in war with the Khmer.
Chenla
see Zhenla. Chinese for the states that occupied Cambodia from about AD 550 to 800.
Corbel
Khnmer method of spanning an opening used for vaults. Overlapping arrangement of stones, each course projecting one third beyond the one below.
Churning of the ocean milk
Hindu myth where gods and demons pull on Vasuki, a snake coiled round Mount Mahendra, to churn the ocean of milk and produce the elixir of immortality.
Deva
(feminine = devi) (devata in Sanskrit); deity that is often a guardian. Heavenly or divine.
Devaraja
Cult instituted by Jayavarman II in AD 802 in Cambodia: the king was an emanation of a god and would be reunited with that god upon death; usually represented in Khmer art as Shiva, symbolising the spiritual and royal essence of the Khmer king .
Dhuli jen
literally, dust of the feet. Dhuli jen vrah kamraten an is the highest title a king could bestow.
Ddvarapala
Guardian at the entrance to a temple often standing and holding a club.
Dvaravati
Mon kingdom in Thailand from approximately the sixth or seventh century to the eleventh century.
Fan
Title for overlords or kings of Funan in Chinese histories. Equivalent of pon in Khmer.
Funan
Chinese name for an ancient Indianised kingdom, probably the predecessor to Angkor; located in the lower Mekong basin; although it existed in the first century AD, its zenith was the fifth century; in the seventh century it was eclipsed by the state of Zhenla.
Garuda
A mythical creature depicted in Khmer art with a human body and birdlike wings, legs and a thick curved beak with bulging eyes; his lower body is covered with feathers and he has the claws of an eagle; Vishnu's vehicle.
Gopura
Gateway to a temple in south India; entrance pavilion in enclosure walls around a temple. Often found in Khmer architecture.
Guru
Spiritual guide.
Hamsa
Sacred goose; Brahma's mount
Hanuman
In the Ramayana, chief of the army of monkeys.
Hari-Hara
('Hari' = Vishnu; 'Hara' = Shiva) Deity combination of these two gods. Seen as a synthesis of the two Hindu cults. The figure is depicted with Vishnu's tiara on one side and Shiva's plaited locks on the other.
Hinayana Buddhism
The 'Small Vehicle'; school of Buddhism, predominant religion in Cambodia in the 15th century; more commonly called Theravada Buddhism.
Hinduism
Religion and social system of the Hindus; popular in Cambodia especially from the first century to the 12th century.
Hotar
Priest .
Indra
Hindu god of war and tempests (from the east)..
-isvara
intrinsic q ualities of Shiva (suffix).
Jaya
Sanskrit word for victory (prefix).
Jyan
Weight measure.
Kailasa
Mythical mountain in the Himalayas and the abode of Shiva.
Kala
Creature with bulbous eyes, human or lion's nose, two horns, clawlike hands and a grinning face.
Kalkin
see Vishnu.
Kamratan
High religious title, superior to a kamsten.
Kamsten
Religious title.
Khleang
"Emporium", monument whose purpose is still unclear. There are two fine examples opposite the terraces of the elephants and leper king in Angkor Thom.
Khion glan
Title given to the chief of the warehouse.
Khion karya
Chief of corvee labour.
Khion visaya
Official responsible for land ownership.
Khmer
(Kh) Ancient indigenous people of Cambodia: the language of Cambodia.
Knum
Slave or junior kinsman.
Kpon
Feminine figure for ancestral or local deities.
Krishna
One of the avataras of Vishnu and hero of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
Lakshmi
Spouse of Shiva and goddess of beauty, created in the churning of the ocean of milk.
Laksmana
Brother of Ramachandra (see Ramayana).
Laterite
Basic building material from red residual soil in humid tropical and subtropical regions that is leached of soluble minerals abundant in Cambodia and north-eastern Thailand. The rock has a porous texture but becomes extremely hard over time in contact with the air, thus making a substantial and lightweight building material.
Linga
Phallic symbol of Shiva and his role in creation.
Lintel
Crossbeam resting on two upright posts.
Lokapala
(Hindu mithology) Protector of one of the eight directions of the earth.
Lokeshvara
(Lord of the World) Compassionate bodhisattva concerned with mankind.
Mahabharata
Great Indian epic on a civil war in north India.
Mahayana Buddhism
The 'Greater Vehicle'; a school of Buddhism that extended the early teachings; flourished in Cambodia, particularly in the late 12th and early 13th centuries.
Mandara
Mythical mountain in the Himalayas pole for the Churning of the Ocean of Milk.
Makara
Sea animal with the body of a reptile and a big jaw and snout that is elongated into a trunk.
Mantrin
King's counsellor or minister.
Mebon
Island temple.
Meru
Home of the gods. Mythical mountain at the centre of the Universe and axis of the world around which the continents and the oceans are ordered.
Mratan
Official appointed by the king in central and regional administration.
Mratan klon
Official appointed to govern a place or region.
Mratan kurun
Higher official appointed to rule a region.
Mucilinda
Naga king; shelter of Buddha while he was meditating during a storm.
Naga
Serpent-god (cobra) of the waters; seven or nine-headed with a scaly body. Protector of the Angkorian state. First used in Bakong temple in Hariharalaya.
Nandi
'The Happy One'. White bull, mount of Shiva.
Nirvana
Goal of Buddhists seen as the final liberation from the cycle of rebirths.
Pala
Weight measure.
Pali
Language derived from Vedic Sanskrit.
Pediment
Fronton: triangular upper portion of a wall above the portico.
Phnom
Mountain.
Pon
Hereditary (from a man to his sister's son) high title. In use until the early VIII century AD, for a local leader who had authority over land and livestock.
Pilaster
Column on the side of an open doorway that projects slightly from the wall.
Praman
Administrative territory under the king's jurisdiction.
Prasat
Tower
Preah
Holy. Preah khan: sacred sword.
Psar
market
Rahu
Demon with a monster's head and no body. Thought to be the cause of eclipes by swallowing the sun and moon.
Raja
King.
Rakshasa
Demon who lives in Lanka (Sri).
Rajakulamahamantri
Title for great adviser.
Rama
Hero of the Ramayana, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu.
Ramayana
Sanskrit epic poem, composed around 300 BC, describing the adventures of Ramachandra and Sita.
Ravana
King of the rakshasas, with ten heads and twenty arms, who abducted Sita and battled against Rama in the Ramayana.
Rishi
Sanskrit for sage, ascetic, or hermit. Represented meditating crosslegged.
Sakti
Energy of a female deity consort of the god.
Sampot
Cambodian garment covering for the lower body
Sanskrit
With Pali root of modern Khmer language.
Sesa
see Vasuki.
Shiva
Hindu god of creation and destruction.
Sita
Rama's wife. See Ramayana.
Spean
Bridge.
Srah
Pond.
Srei
Woman.
Sresthin
Middle grade official.
Sruk
A small territorial division, possibly the size of a village.
Stung
River.
Sugriva
Monkey king (Ramayana).
Surya-
Name prefix for sun.
Ta
Ancestor.
Tamrvac
Agents for the government in the provinces.
Tanub
Dyke.
Theravada Buddhism
Religion found in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. It follows the early Buddhist teachings .
Tonle' Sap
'sweet water' (tonle'=large river) the largest lake in SE Asia, linked with the Mekong River by the Tonle Sap River.
Upanisads
Ancient religious texts from India.
Vap
Title meaning father.
-varman
Shield or protector (name suffix).
Vasuki
(Ananta, Sesa) Serpent upon which Vishnu reclines or sits.
Vedas
Hymns and prayers Indo-Aryans of northern India (second millennium BC).
Vihara
Sanctuary, temple.
Visaya
Territorial area.
Vishnu
The Hindu god of compassion and preservation.
Vrah guru
Senior minister responsible for religious foundations.
Vyapara
Official appointed by the king responsible for boundaries.
Wat
Siamese for 'temple'
Yaksha
Male deity, guardian with bulging eyes, fangs and a leering grin.
Yoni
Female fertility symbol at the base of the linga.
Zhenla (Chenla)
Chinese name given to a state that existed in Cambodia from the sixth century to the eighth century.


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