Ta Prohm: A Glorious Era in Angkor Civilisation

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An informal presentation by the authors of the new book, Ta Prohm: A Glorious Era in Angkor Civilisation will be held at Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) Siem Reap on Monday, 25th June.

Ta Prohm: A Glorious Era in Angkor Civilisation
by H. Exc. Shri P K Kapur, Deputy Director General, Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA)
and Prof. Sachchidanand Sahai, Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla.

« Ta Prohm: A Glorious Era in Angkor Civilisation » ” (White Lotus, Bangkok) offers a new look at the biography of Jayavarman VII, focusing on the ideology of abnegation followed by this Angkorian monarch. With his well-developed policy of welfare, the king surpassed the contemporary European kings. The monograph shows how Ta Prohm was intricately connected with the royal welfare programs, since its foundation stele describes in details the assistance given to the hospitals from the royal treasury.

The monograph presents the temple of Ta Prohm in the context of Cambodian history, as the first dated temple of the reign of Jayavarman VII (1186), symbolizing the perfect wisdom in Khmer civilization with the mother of the king represented as Prajnaparamita, the mother of the Buddha.

The monastic and spiritual life at the temple has been graphically reconstructed through a closer study of the inscriptions of Ta Prohm. Impressive annual and daily grants offered by the royal treasury to sustain the spiritual life of the kingdom have been meticulously detailed.

A systematic study of restoration policy has been made in the context of over a hundred years of practical experience at the sites of Angkor. It has been argued that Ta Prohm can be a useful test case for the refinement of ideology and techniques of restoration based on the criteria of authenticity. This first monograph-length study of the most enigmatic temple of Angkor complex offers an indispensable reading, both for the visitors, and specialists, interested in unlocking the puzzles of Angkor art.

Shri Pradeep Kumar Kapur, a career diplomat of the Indian Foreign Service, is well-known for his deep interest in the theory and practice of political, economic and cultural diplomacy. He has worked in diverse areas in the Ministry of External Affairs and in the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India. He has also made significant contributions in expanding the scope and content of India’s external relations during his postings in the Indian Embassies/High Commissions in Spain, Tanzania, France, Nepal and Cambodia. During his tenure as Ambassador of India to Cambodia, Kapur took up the famous, but extremely difficult site for restoration of the Ta Prohm temple monument in Angkor, as a test case of cultural diplomacy between India and Cambodia.

Sachchidanand Sahai is an alumnus of Banaras Hindu University where he studied Indian and Southeast Asian Art and Archaeology. Specializing in the Khmer studies at the University of Paris, Sorbonne (1965-69) under the supervision of eminent French savant George Coedes, Sahai produced a pioneering doctorial thesis, published by the EFEO in 1971. Since, he authored many publications. The founder editor of the Southeast Asian Review, he has edited and published thirty volumes of this journal since 1976. In 1981, he founded the International Conference on Thai Studies. Sahai held a chair of Southeast Asian Studies at the Magadh University, Bodh Gaya (India) and worked as the pro-Vice Chancellor of the university in 2001. As Research Professor at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi (1988-90) he set up the Southeast Asia division of the centre. Recipient of French government scholarship, Fulbright post-doctoral Fellowship, Visiting Fellowship at Australian National University and Maison de Science de l’ Homme (Paris), Sahai is currently Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla.

Monday 25th of June 2007, at 6:30 pm at the EFEO.
P.O. Box 93 300, Siem Reap – Angkor
Phum Beng Don Pa, Khum Slâ Kram, Siem Reap, Cambodge
Email: efeo.angkor@online.com.kh / efeo.angkor.bib@online.com.kh