The temples of Cambodia are among the most complex and imposing architectural creations in the world, offering nothing less than the embodiment of Khmer culture. Over a period of five hundred years, from the seventh to the twelfth centuries, successive rulers sought to build sacred spaces that bore witness to the presence of the gods and the legitimacy of the kings. This volume invites the reader to experience that remarkable architectural and spiritual achievement through extraordinary photographs and a text by a leading Khmer cultural historian.
Organized chronologically, the book opens with the modestly scaled brick structures of the 7th and 8th centuries and goes on to explore the first monumental temple mountains of the 9th century, the technical advances enabling the fulflllment of a unique Khmer architectural vision in the 10th, and the erection of the ambitious Baphuon temple mountain, among others, in the 11th, all setting the stage for the apogee of the Khmer empire in the 12th century, and with it, the construction of three massive temple complexes: Beng Mealea, Bakan, and the supreme architectural creation of Cambodia, Angkor Wat.
The glories of the Khmer temples do not lack for exposure in pictorial and scholarly publications. Yet no other recent publication offers such comprehensive coverage of the Angkor temples at the heart of Cambodia. What distinguishes this volume are Barry Brukoff’s photographs. Having photographed the temples for nearly half a century, his work not only records temples that have been destroyed or vandalized but offer a uniquely intimate insight into the Cambodian idiom.
The viewer is drawn into the picture plane and can sense the interior wonders of the monuments. For the flrst time a two-dimensional expression succeeds in invoking the third, and the reader can penetrate to the heart of the temples’ mystery.