“Morning Captain. All time travel stations at the ready Sir. Orders for today?”
“Morning Scotty, morning everyone. Temples of Angkor, Cambodia. 19th and 20th century. Ready to jump?”
1866. A Hipster gathering at Angkor-Vat. Far left, Navy Lieutenant-Commander Doudart de Lagrée, commands an expedition to find a route to China, sailing up the Mékong. Previous expeditions had re-discovered the ruins of Angkor, but Doudart is the first to bring a photo camera. He dies, possibly of tropical illness in 1868 at the age of 45 in the south of China. Francis Garnier, far right, takes over the expedition. The Mekong is not fit for navigation in the North. The route to China eludes the French again. Garnier stays in Asia and is killed in 1873 by the Black flags pirates in Hanoï.
2018. A staircase at Angkor-Thom. Maybe Doudart and Garnier sat there for their photo? The Naga God lies between the two lions. Jump!
1870. Despite the recent invention of photography, engraving was still considered more “chic”. The first massive distribution of Angkor Vat images was in 1870 in “Le magasin pittoresque”, a popular magazine of the time. Sketch by Lancelot, based on a photograph. “Jump!”
2018. Angkor-Vat at sunrise. Watch carefully my fellow travelers. Your Captain never, ever wakes up before dawn. Unhealthy. Angkor-Vat was built by King Suryavarman II (1113-1150) at the height of the Khmer empire, when Cambodia ruled over practically all Indochina form Siam to Vietnam. (Jump!!)
1903. West gate of Angkor Vat. (Atlas colonial) “Jump!”
2018. West gate.
1930. Outer enclosure.
2018. The towers mark the strong Indian influence all over Indochina. Not just religiously, but also architecturally. Jump. Again.
1930. Royal Cambodian dancer. (La France lointaine)
2018. There are close to 1500 divine Apsaras or dancers in the temples of Angkor. Many of those bas-reliefs were pilfered after the Khmer Rouge defeat. The above (12th century approx.) may be a reproduction or a restauration. (Dancin’ in the street) Jump!
1930. Dancer in front of a gallery.
C. 12th century. All the movements of hands, head, body and feet were very finely coined. Influenced by dances from India. I’m pleased to say that those traditions are still very much alive. One can only imagine the sumptuous costumes, hairdo and jewelry and the dancing accompanied by Khmer music.
1930. A young Buddhist monk at Angkor Vat. Didn’t see any monk there this past January. Scared off by the tourists? Jump!
2108. Apart for aesthetic value I haven’t understood the role of the stone columns. (Another Indian influence there).
“Scotty. is the date right? 2108? Jump to Angkor Thom, please.”
“No Tuk-tuk, Captain? Ok. Didn’t think so. Jump!”
1930. Angkor-Thom. Alley of the giants and Victory gate. (Right of the tree). (Juuuump!)
2018. The causeway that leads to Angkor-Thom. Much restauration. To the left: the Devas. The Devas were minor gods. Deva is a Sanskrit word meaning God. The word Deva gave us Dieu, Dios and Divine. The Demons are on the right. Both cohortes hold the Serpent God, Naga. Full story in a further installment. Don’t jump, Scotty.
Devas at Angkor Thom. 2018. Jump!
1905. One of the Bayon temple towers. I have read two interpretations. One says the faces are Buddha’s. Four faces in each tower, each facing a cardinal point. The other interpretation, which I favour, is that those are the four faces of Brahma, a creator God, equal to Vishnu and Shiva, and first mentioned in an Upanishad around 1000 BC. There are 216 faces of Brahma/Buddha in the Bayon. Not quite 256 or it would be a cosmic micro-processor. Jump!
2018. The gate of victory. The entrance to Angkor-Thom. (To be continued…)
Om mani padme om.