Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Hindu Temples of Angkor Wat part.IV

In the bas-reliefs which decorate the Bayon temple built by Jayavarman VII, the Khmers recorded their day to day activities. The carvings show people bartering and hunting. Other prepare feasts, watch cockfights, or marvel at amazing acrobatic feats. 

                 The bas- reliefs in the Bayon also depict vivid battle scenes commemorating the victory of the Khmers over the Chams, which tell something of the army that extended the power of the empire throughout southern Indo China.

                 The king and his generals rode into battle on elephants trained for war. The animals were armed- sharp metal points were fitted to their tusks. On a platform on each elephant’s back stood a fierce warrior brandishing a bow and arrow. The Carnac, or the driver, perched in the animal’s neck. In battle, clashes between elephants-bore warriors often took the form of the duel. The winning warrior would leap on to his opponent’s animal to press home his victory.

                 Lighted torches were waved to enrage other elephants, which were then used as battering rams to break through enemy defenses. They went into battle alongside sabre-rattling horsemen, riding without stirrups, and well ordered ranks of infantry. After an initial exchange of arrows, the troops fell into hand to hand combat. When the battle ended, the wounded on both sides were usually killed to put them out of their misery.

                 The Khmers soldiers seem to have worn only loincloths and leather jerkins. For protection they carried wooden shields. They attacked their enemies with lances, pikes, sabres, bows, knives, javelins, and sometimes ballistas- large catapults operated by teams of soldiers, which hurled rocks a deep into the ranks of the opposing arm.

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