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A unique feature of Cambodian temple complexes dating from the early to the late Angkorian periods was a small annex building (of brick and sometimes stone or laterite) with ventilation holes, built in the southeastern quarter of the main temple, which scholars have tentatively called either a ‘library’ or a ‘fire shrine’. These enigmatic structures and their function call for further investigation.
In what follows we tentatively seek to establish the original function of those structures, and its possible evolution from the early Angkorian through the Angkorian period, by analysing their peculiar architectural features against the background of the Sanskrit inscriptional record from the Khmer domains and Sanskrit transmitted texts from South Asia describing the observances and ritual practices of (Pāśupata or Pāśupata-influenced) early Śaivism. We do not deny the possibility that (some of) these annex buildings might have functioned as manuscript repositories, but rather argue that they served predominantly (or, perhaps, even simultaneously) as sacred spaces for specific Śaiva rituals, including ash-related rituals of the Pāśupata sect, as well as initiation- and homa-rituals.
Having first analysed the architectural features of the annex buildings and similar structures, for which we propose a threefold taxonomy, we review the interpretations thus far advanced by scholars on the basis of both archaeological data and Sanskrit inscriptions from the ancient Khmer domains, and start to elaborate our own in terms of a possible dual function for the buildings. Then we look for traces of Pāśupata practices and their underlying ideology in the Khmer temple architecture, in particular in the annex buildings under scrutiny, by matching the archaeological data with textual data, including Pāśupata texts and early Śaiva sources like the Śivadharmottara. We conclude by elaborating on the importance of sacred fire and the bestowal of the Śaiva gnosis by the ācārya in the Pāśupata initiation ritual, which may have provided one of the raisons d’être for the annex buildings, and by giving a brief survey of the archaeological finds recovered from some of those buildings, which would seem to support their use for homa rituals.
Architectural Features And Functions Of The Annex Buildings
Śaivism was the dominant Indic religious tradition in the ancient Khmer domains in the early mediaeval period (ca. 7th–13th century CE). The ideologies and ritual practices of its various currents, from the Atimārga or Pāśupata Śaivism (flourished ca. 3rd–8th century) to the Mantramārga or tantric Śaivism (flourished ca. 7th–13th century), inspired the extant corpus of Sanskrit and Old Khmer inscriptions as well as the regions’ temple architecture.
The Pāśupata movement was one of the earliest organized and widely distributed ascetic orders of Śaivism. The Brahmins of this sect left significant traces of their presence across the subcontinent and also secured a prominent position in the ancient Khmer, Cam, and Javanese domains. One of their most characteristic traits was the incorporation of song and dance into observance (vrata), both within and without temples. The key text Pāśupatasūtra indicates that the initial systematic inclusion of song and dance in ascetic observance can be traced to the Pāñcārthika tradition, whose earliest textual sources date back to ca. 4th or 5th centuries CE. An association with performance may also be detected among the various sub-traditions that sprung up within the Pāśupata fold, including the Lākulas and the Kāpālikas/Kālamukhas, as well as the elusive ‘Siddhas’, who appear to have taken up some of the antinomian behaviours of the Pāśupatas.
While the Pāñcārthika Pāśupata system was characterized by an ascetic character, early references to this sect in the epigraphical records document endowments for temples, and ‘refer to Pāśupatas as recipients for the performance of worship in the temples’ (Bisschop 2010: 485). It has, thus, become increasingly clear that, fairly soon in the history of the order, some Pāśupatas started to perform temple rituals, thereby obtaining royal support. The performing arts, including singing and dancing, seem to have played a role in their modes of worship. These may then have been carried forward and further developed by the Mantramārga throughout the mediaeval period in Śaiva temples and monasteries in both the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
This chapter documents and re-examines the Śaiva ritual practices enjoining performance in the mediaeval Khmer domains. It combines data mined from the Śaiva textual archive in Sanskrit and vernacular languages with hitherto neglected art historical material from the ancient Khmer domains, as well as insights from Campā, Java, and South India.
THE RISE OF THE PĀLA DYNASTY in the 8th century ad brought paradigm shifts in Buddhist text, ritual, and sacred architecture that sent cultural waves across the expanding maritime and land trade routes of Asia. This chapter focuses on how the architectural concepts travelled in the connected Buddhist world between the Ganges valley and Java. A movement of architectural ideas can be seen from studying the corpus of the temples in the Pāla (ad 750–1214) and Śailendra (ad 775–1090) domains of India and Indonesia. This chapter proposes that we see a paradigm shift in the design of a stūpa architecture at Kesariya (Bihar) that emphasizes the arrangement of deities in the circular maṇḍalic fashion with a certain numerological configuration of life–size Buddha figures placed in the external niches of the monument. This new architectural concept possibly played a key role in the development of a more elaborate structure of Borobudur in Java.
The architectural linkages emerge stronger with the central fivefold structure of the temples of the Pālas and Śailendras. In order to make the essential comparison, a quick method of drawing architectural plans is developed that is based on the basic measurements and not archaeological plans.
ARCHITECTURAL DEVELOPMENT IN STŪPA STRUCTURE
The main archaeological sites of the middle and lower Ganges plain were recorded in the 19th century by Alexander Cunningham, following the travel accounts of the Chinese scholar-pilgrims Faxian (ca. 337–422) and Xuanzang (ca. 602–64). Northeast India contained not only early Buddhist stūpa s and monastic complexes, but also a range of stūpastructures that advanced from the traditional hemispherical stūpaof Sanchi, through the cruciform, terraced stūpa structure of Nandangaṛh (Fig. 8.1) to the elaborate stūpa-maṇḍala of Kesariya. Most of the Pāla structures that may have served as a model for Central Javanese temples are in dilapidated state today, making it difficult to track the architectural borrowings.
The spiritual power of dance in Cambodia has been valued since pre-Angkorian times, and the plentiful images of dance and music in the bas-reliefs of the great monuments of Angkor suggest that this tradition was markedly enhanced in the reign of Jayavarman VII, as a contemporary Chinese report attests. This article explores the ‘halls with dancers’ of the Ta Prohm, Preah Khan and Bayon temples built by king Jayavarman VII and concludes that here dance became a determinant in some Khmer sacred architecture.
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