Duels in the Detail at Angkor Park

Small bas-reliefs on the temples' walls. Photo: Phoeung Dara

SIEM REAP - According to the officials from the APSARA National Authority, bas-reliefs depicting traditional arts such as kun Khmer, wrestling and even bokator can be seen on the lower section of temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap province.

Phoeung Dara, an archaeologist for the APSARA National Authority, said these depictions were carved in small areas in temples such as Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat, Bayon, Banteay Samre and Preah Khan.

Phoeung Dara, an archaeologist for the APSARA National Authority. Photo: Isa Rohany

At the temple of Ta Prohm, a monument synonymous with towering trees, eight depictions can be seen in a row describing martial arts activities such as warming up.

One shows two people using their knees to strike. A person on the right pushes his opponent’s head downward and uses the left knee to kick. The person on the left uses his right hand to stop the knee from hitting his face.

Photo: Phoeung Dara

Photo: Phoeung Dara

Dara believes that this depicts Kun Khmer. However, further analysis suggests that the fighting is more likely to be training since nearby bas-reliefs show people sitting around and pointing to the fighters in a sense of telling what kind of technique to use.

Moving to Preah Khan temple, on one of the pillars two fighters can be seen wrestling as one tries to grab the neck of his opponent. The opponent counterstrikes by grabbing the thigh of the attacker.

Photo: Phoeung Dara

Due to their small size, erosion, moss and the vastness of the temples, these bas-reliefs are often overlooked by visitors.

Related Articles