Cambodia Marble Carving

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Cambodia Art – Marble Carving

In the fourth biggest province of Cambodia, Pursat town is very famous through the country for its marble product. The marble blocks are extracted in the Cardamom mountains. High quality marble colored green, red, blue or black is found in the Thmor Keo mountain ; 80 km out of Pursat. Marble was first discovered in this area, during the French colonization. As marble is abundant and early extracted in this area, it’s become a very current business for Pursat residents. Skillful marble carvers can be seen sculpting precisely huge Buddhas and beautiful statues. A carving school as even been created in Pursat to teach over 300 students how to improve the best carving techniques.

A Brief History of Asian Art Cambodia Marble Carving Art

The archaeological finds prove that Angkor Borei was the vastest site of Funan and Chenla kingdoms (68-550 ; 550-706). The oldest known Khmer stone sculptures were found in cave temples in this area. Those sculptures represent Buddhist and Hindu divinities that reveal traditional Indian stylistic influences. But, the Khmers angle can be seen in the free standing statues, supported by an arch or an attribute of the divinity. Most of the sculptures represent the divinities of Vishnu and Shiva, sometimes combined into one deity, called Harihara.  The Chenla period saw an increase in relief carving on stone lintels and pediments.

Angkor Period

The initial art style of the Angkorian period is the Kulen Style (802-875). It is the first style to dispense with supporting arches. The bodies were sculpted rigidly upright with distinctive Khmer features : round faces and       broad brows. The Koh Ker style (941-944) denotes a taste for gigantic human and animal figures in dynamic movements. The Baphuon style (1010-1080) shows slim and graceful. The eyes are often incised and they may     have been fitted with gems and precious metals.

The Angkor Wat style (1100-1175) performs the highest architectural realizations, as the Angkor Wat temple. The ornamentation and bas reliefs of the buildings represent muscular and upright figures ornate with belts, necklaces and bracelets.

A great number of the statues of the Bayon style (1180-1230) portray Buddhist figures with Hindu symbols. The intention was to portray the Buddha as a powerful universal monarch in keeping with the contemporary images of Hindu gods. The portrayal of royalty in the guise of Buddhist deities is also popular during this period.

From the last Angkorian period, the wood intends to replace the stone as the dominant medium for Khmer sculptures. Due to the rapid decay of this medium, we only conserve a few numbers of wood statues from this period.

Post Angkor Period

The wood sculptures of this period show layers of lacquer as decorative and protective roles. Frequently, the sculptures were encrusted with ivory, pearls or vitrified ornaments. Most of the wooden statues were carved in the last few centuries.