Some say they resemble the face of their builder, King Jayavarman VII. Others say they have the aspect of the Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. Or they could be both, king and god.

They all look similar, but not identical. Often times their eyes seem shut, and with those serene smiles, as if delighting in enlightenment. This was after all a Mahāyāna shrine.

But up close, the eyes are opened wide. At every turn in this endless labyrinth, you meet the gaze of the devaraja—the god-king—and you are diminished in his majesty.

(After Rilke’s Buddha in der Glorie)


Prasat Bayon (Angkor, 2012)

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