Ancient Khmer Sites in North-eastern Thailand
by Asger Mollerup
Worship of Agni (God of Fire) and fire-shrines from Khorat and Buriram to Cambodia along 'the Angkor-Phimai route".
Publisher: White Lotus Press, Bangkok
Language : English
ADB Library Catalog ID: ARC-KHTH1
Living in Thailand for decades, the author has previously studied the orientation of Khmer temples relatively to the course of celestial bodies, and is also keen on linguistical explorations.
This substantial gudebook to the Khmer temples located in modern Thailand (which was supposed to come wih some 6,000 additional photos on an attached CD) takes us to a broader level of archaeological and historic exploration: step by step, by finding analogies and common patterns in the temple building principles, we enter the political and religious realm of the Khmer Empire.
Quite convincingly, the author contends that fire worship, in its Saivic forms but not only, was a main staple in the religious, military and political specificity of the Khmer Empire. Other researchers have stressed the symbolic centrality of the 'Ark of Fire" carried into battles by the Khmer armies. Here, the assumption is that most of pre-Buddhist Khmer temples were built around one or several fire shrines. The royal roads connecting Angkor to the farthest parts of the empire were designed with dharmasalas ('houses of fire', both literally and as propagators of the 'fire' of wisdom, the one fighting the darkness of the natural wilderness and of the "soul's inner recesses", to quote Amina Ahmed Kar) dotting the itinerary.
With this assumption, the author offers a stimulating explanation to the structures that have been labelled quite enigmatically as "libraries" (commas included}: these buildings hosted both fire shrines AND stacks of leaf manuscripts, "the heat preserving these fragile documents from the pervasive, devastating humidity."
The pattern of Angkor Thom Royal Palace has been reproduced in other Khmer complexes far to the North,, according to the author.
Tags: fire worship, dharmasala, libraries, "libraries", astronomy, guidebooks, Thailand, Khorat, Buriram, Angkor roads, Royal routes, royal roads, Khmer Empire
About the Author
An independent researcher, Asger Mollerup (12 Aug 1949, Hobro, Denmark) specializes in ethno-linguistics, Khmer temples history and archaeo-astronomy, the discipline studying the way ancient cultures related to celestial events.
He has extensively studied hundreds of Khmer temples in Northern Thailand (Isan Province) and Cambodia, mainly their orientation in relation to the cardinal points and the position of the sun during the two annual solstices.
In Thailand, Asger Mollerup has developed several activities in cultural tourism since 1988. He lives in the Phu Phan Mountains, N-E Thailand, pursuing researches on Isan, Lao and Thai languages.