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Bayon faces

usa
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2,037 posts
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Bayon faces

Currently the famous smiling faces of the Bayon temple seem to be made of several blocks connected together. Does anyone know if they were built like this? Or were they split into pieces and rejoined after some restoration work? Any old 1800s photograph of these faces to see whether they were really made of separate blocks?

Thanks

Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Bayon faces

Hello mangoo

As for the majority of the carved constructions in the Angkor region and era, the faces of Bayon were built up of separate very large blocks of stone brought in from the several quarries in the Kulen range of hills.

Once the blocks were in situ, the stone masons then carved firstly the rough outlines of the faces followed by the finer detail of the faces. None of the faces were pre-carved and then assembled in situ.

Over time and with some slight settling/movement and weathering the individual blocks of stone have become far more obvious. Originally, the blocks of stone were rubbed against each other to form a near invisible joint. But that was then and here we are hundreds of years later.

None of the faces have been restored as such.

I was fortunate to be at Bayon around the turn of the century and spent the better part of a day watching the Japanese permanent mission to Angkor photograph in great detail each of the Bayon faces using a tethered helium balloon, which was relocated as necessary, and an array frame containing many very expensive Nikon cameras. The faces are all quite different in some details as is to be expected in hand-carved images of such imposing size.

The photographing of each and every face also settled the argument as to just how many faces there are at Bayon. Unfortunately, I have forgotten what the exact tally came to.

Hope that this helps somewhat?

Best regards. Ian/Angkor

Phnom Penh

usa
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2. Re: Bayon faces

Angkorlad,

Thanks a lot for the information. Good to know it is still "original" in the sense that they were actually carved from multiple stone blocks. For many years I had doubt - only now my doubts have been clarified.

Thanks

3. Re: Bayon faces

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