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Khmer

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吳哥寺(小吳哥) . Angkor Wat

吳哥寺(簡稱小吳哥) 是高棉建築藝術最登峰造極之作,亦被譽為世界上最大的宗教建築。城內總共分為三層構造,從外可見轟立著五個高塔,最高的中心塔離地面約65米,城外四面由護城河緊緊環繞。主建築群周圍有大空地,內裡有多個小房間,共藏有超過2000 個浮雕及銘文。最具歷史感的銘文和浮雕,可於此處尋。當爬到主塔的第三層, 可看到四個大佛,面向四個軸心。現在主體建築有些較新的佛殿,仍有不少僧侶在這裡修行。日落時,整個吳哥寺變成金色,十分耀眼。夕陽餘暉襯托之下,美得令人不捨離去。

The temple of Angkor Wat is the masterpiece of Khmer architecture, and it has been called the largest religious structure in the world. It has already become a symbol of Cambodia. The temple is made of three layers of gallery, and composed of five towers that symbolize five peaks of a mountain. The largest is the one in the center, which is 65 meters tall, and the quincunx of towers. The walls are surrounded by a moat that symbolizes an ocean surrounding mountain ranges. Walking along the corridor of the complex, one would be immediately impressed by the extensive bas-reliefs and devatas adorning the walls, as there were over 2000 of them inside Angkor Wat including some of the oldest art works. When I was walking up the steep stairway to the third floor of the central tower, I saw four Buddhas each facing the four axes. Many Buddhist monks can be seen in the temples, with their orange robes casting a bright contrast with the grey walls. Sunset in Angkor Wat is one of the most impressive and breathtaking views, with fading dusk light turning the stones into golden color. A sight that will forever linger in my mind.

寺內第一層的浮雕、銘文是最豐富。The first layout of the gallery showcase the most extensive reliefs and inscriptions.

長廊的浮雕十分震撼。The stunning reliefs at the gallery wall.

聽說塔頂曾有一顆鑽石。Legend said there was a huge diamond casting on top of the tower.

塔頂內高錦盛世的浮雕。The reliefs represent the height of Khmer art.

 靜待日落。Watching sunset is a must at Angkor Wat.

於第三塔上的引人入勝的浮雕。The enchanting reliefs on the third floor.

浮雕是高棉藝術頂峰之作,輕紗放在肌膚上,十十分立體。仙女體態和比例均稱,非常優美。This is the height of Khmer artistic style, layers of draperies that cover the lush skin of the fairies can clearly be seen.  The fairies are well proportioned with slandered bodies, all looking very natural.

安靜。My moment of solitude.

作了一個小小的捐獻,僧侶為我送上祝福。I made some donation for the temple and the monk was blessing me with his good words.

 在這裡修行的僧侶。Monks are still practising here inside Angkor Wat nowadays.

日落時,有點深秋的感覺。Sunrise…sunset…Life is changing of seasons.  Fall is here… 

Travel

時間、空間、歷史幻象交錯 Illusion of Time, Dimension and History

時間、空間、歷史幻交錯

吳哥王朝早已於歷史洪流中煙消雲散。這個盛極一時的神秘高棉帝國,除了留下一段段謎樣的歷史,還有千百年來屹立不倒的文明遺跡。置身其中,一座又一座的祭祀廟宇、國王陵寢,在刻上活靈活現精緻浮雕的走廊中穿梭,每一個角落都有故事,感受到千百年前人民生活過的痕跡。王朝的輝煌,在廢墟中一幕幕重新上演,虛實交錯,同時又像細訴往事如煙。人類文明敵不過時間和歷史的巨輪,一切已煙消魂散,剩下的只有遺址。

那是一段關於人性的時代傳記。紀錄了人類如何在苦難之中絃歌不輟地創造文明,同時又不斷因其貪婪自私的本性而摧毀所有的繁盛,留下一頁頁血雨腥風的史書,滿山遍地的白骨亡魂。時宜至今,歷史仍不斷重新演釋,週而復始,令人痛心。

吳哥建築美學

吳哥窟的建材主要紅土、砂岩、方磚、經過精密計算和佈局進行相崁,並以大木刻和仔細上色的木材蓋建。最早期在高棉神廟留下的木材,因為年日久遠早而腐爛,只剩下牆上一個個整齊的洞孔,便可知一二。吳哥的建築群包括祭祀的地方,迂迴的長廊及至後期錯綜複雜的廟宇,高聳層疊式金字塔式建築。而後彌山 (Mount Meru) 是高綿建築學的高峰,它是整個宇宙及精神層面的中心,採用了軸向校准,對準了夏至及冬至的方向,並以幾何和精確的比例,展示王朝的偉大及力量!當我爬上吳哥窟的高梯,再一層一層爬上去看寺內的大佛,不能不讚嘆建築群信仰的力量。

Illusion of Time, Dimension and History

The remains of the great Khmer empire spread out in the jungles and allow its visitors a glimpse of the majesty of this once proud civilization. Stories and legends of the era lie in the stone inscriptions adorning the buildings. These carvings tell episodes about gods and people’s everyday life so vividly that I am able to relive its colorful history. But revisiting the past also prompted me to think how ironic it was for such a powerful civilization to suddenly come to its end, its people gone, and its architecture abandoned in a jungle. I cannot help but ponder about the dark side of human nature, and how history keeps repeating itself under the influence of human greed, which brought upon wars that ultimately destroyed the very proud civilizations they themselves built.

The Aesthetics of Angkor Architecture

The Angkor Wat is known to the world for its architectural and artistic value. A large part of the Angkorian architecture was mainly constructed of red clay, sandstone and brick. The stones, laid without mortar, were fixed to places with very tight and nicely-fitted joints. The earliest temples used a lot of wooden materials that perished over time. The major scheme for the building construction of Angkorian temples was that of the Temple Mountain, an architectural representation of Mount Meru, which is the home of the gods in Hinduism. The temple itself was in the shape of a pyramid of several levels, and the home of the gods was represented by the elevated sanctuary at the center of the temple. When building the sacred space, it is believed that the designers took measurements of solar and lunar time cycles and incorporated this divine mandate to perfection. When I was climbing up to the stairs step by step, it was hard not to be mesmerized by the effort of the designer and the power of the religion.

A moment of solace.

Lost in space and time.

 

Travel

吳哥窟 – 人生之旅 Angkor Wat – Journey of my life

首次想到柬埔寨的吳哥窟,是看了王家衛的《花樣年華》。梁朝偉飾演男主角的周慕雲,於荒廢的寺廟內,面向一個小洞把心底秘密說出來 [注1],背景音樂旋律拉奏著千百年來的哀傷。他心底那段未果的愛情,一如盛極一時的吳哥王朝一樣, 隨時間消失,只剩下斑駁遺跡下的滿目荒涼….. 心想有生之年必須造訪這個國度。 柬埔寨的歷史就像是一個複雜的萬花筒,放眼望去,交錯著硝煙烽火,刀光劍影。吳哥古蹟是世界上最大的廟宇群建築,供奉印度教的毗濕奴 (Vishnu) 及佛教(大乘佛教),延伸到160公頃。提據銘文,當時曾動用三十萬名工匠及六千頭大象興建,工程浩瀚無比。每一個城市有它的城門、護城河,有些寺廟甚至鑲滿寶石或黃金,綺麗奢華,王朝盛極一時。

吳哥王城由 Jayavarman VII (柬王闍耶拔摩七世) 於12世紀間興建。吳哥通王城( Angkor Thom) 也稱大吳哥,是「大城市」的意思。吳哥的通王城始建於9世紀,現今所見的建築是由12世紀末、13世紀重建而成。而大吳哥以著名的巴戎廟(Bayon)為中心,也是著名的「高綿微笑」佛像所在之處。及至15世紀時,柬國王朝沒落,被逼棄城退守金邊。輝煌的建築竟漸漸被叢林蔓藤吞噬,完全湮沒在人類的紀憶之中。直到19世紀,一名法國生物學家按照古籍探險,終於在不見天日的叢林之內發現這座迷失的古城,令文明古蹟重見天日,哄動一時,被列為世界七大奇觀之一。

在50至60年代的柬埔寨曾經在國際舞台上光輝無限,成為多過知名人仕或政要到訪之地,座上客包括前美國總統甘乃迺的夫人(Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) 、瑪嘉烈公主、李光耀總統、及法國總統。直至1970,龍諾 (Lon Nol) 策動政變,推翻帝制。在1975年至1979 年間,赤柬 (又稱紅色高棉) 的波爾布特 (Pol Pot) 掌控政權,在接近四年的「零度歲月」自絕於國際社會,展開了人類歷史上最恐怖的大屠殺之一。極端獨裁的政府,黨同伐異,無所不用其極地逼害反對派人仕,對持異見的文人、藝術家、及政客進行殘酷清洗。大屠殺令當時人口由700萬大減至 350萬人,全國四分一人口死於處決、酷刑、過勞、饑荒等等,該國至今仍留下聞之色變的夢魘。英國電影「戰火屠城」正是以這段殘忍的歷史為背景。

一直到1991年,柬埔寨終於在巴黎和平條約規定下,由聯合國接管,取得短暫和平。1993年實行君主立憲制,再次建立柬埔寨王國。到1997 洪森發動軍士政變,掌控政權至今,該國仍籠罩在強人威權統治的陰影下。

這是我第一次到訪暹粒。在飛機上,看到一大片肥沃的土地,路上樹木林蔭。全市只有六條馬路有交通燈,沒有工業,生產主要來自農業和旅遊業。一個富有歷史文化的城市。萬城區全是殖民地色彩的老房子、小店、酒吧,並且有多種特色美食。頂級的酒店或隱蔽的渡假村也座落於鎮上。很適合家庭、情侶或喜歡探險的旅遊人。不如看看我眼中的吳哥窟及暹粒吧﹗

Angkor Wat has always on my mind since watching In The Mood for Love by Hong Kong movie director Wong Kar-wai. In the film, Chow Mo-Wan (by Tony Leung) brought the memory of his forbidden love to the monastery relic in Angkor Wat, where he whispered into a hole in the ruined wall. He then covered the hole with soil to bury the brief romance that never blossomed in daylight. Along with his unspoken affection lies the faded grandeur of the Khmer Empire, which was once the most powerful Southeast Asian empire during the Middle Ages. But as time goes by, the great empire was forgotten, its holy temple abandoned, leaving behind the valuable relics of the legacy. It was then I decided I must visit this place and see it for myself. Cambodia has a long and colourful history. Angkor Wat in Siem Reap is the largest temple complex and religious monument in the world, located on a site measuring around 160 hectares. Originally it was built as a Hindu temple for the Vishnu god in Khmer Empire, but slowly transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. According to old documents, over 300,000 workers and 6,000 elephants were employed to build the extensive structure. Each palace in Angkor had its tower gate and city moat, and the temples were lavishly adorned with gold and jewelry.

Angkor Thom was built by Jayavarman VII in the 12th century, which literally means “Great City”. At the centre of the massive complex was the magnificent state temple, Bayon, the temple of the smiling gods. In the 15th century, the royal family of Khmer Empire suffered a downfall and fled from Angkor Wat. The awe-inspiring temple complex was then left to wither in decay, later forgotten, and in the end completely swallowed by the robust jungle. Until the 19th century, adventurers discovered the ancient temple according to historical records, stunning the world with its grandeur and aesthetic values. It is now listed as one of the seven wonders in the world, and preserved as an UNESCO World Heritage.

Cambodia was once glamorous on the global stage and hosted numerous international stars. Until 1970, Lon Nol launched a coup to abolish the monarchy, and declared himself the president. Following his ruling, communist party Khmer Rouge rose to seize power and its leader Pol Pot led the country into a dark era known as “The year of Zero” in history. During the vicious four-year regime, the country descended into complete chaos. The dictator sealed the country off from the outside world and launched a genocide within his own country to eradicate his opponents. The deadly cleansing was performed on writers, artists, politicians and so on, resulting in a shocking plummet in the population of the Cambodia from 7 million to just 3.5 million! A fourth of Cambodians died from torture, execution, starvation or exploitation. The bloody history has inspired award-winning British drama film The Killing Fields.

The country only achieved peace when the United Nations took over its governance after the Paris Peace Accords, and later restored the status of the royalty. However in 1997, Hun Sen launched another military coup and seized power, extending his legacy until today. This is the first time I visited  . I saw a large piece of fertile soil on the plane, with trees and trees along the road. Only six main roads have traffic lights in place, and the economy relies on farming and tourism. Nevertheless, it is a city rich with history and culture. Visitors will find vintage and charming colonial buildings with pubs, shops, and a diverse local cuisine. Top resorts and hotels are also in town. It is a place really suitable for different travelers. Let’s take a glimpse of how I feel about Siem Reap!