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This magnificent frieze was inspired by the bas-reliefs at the Angkor Wat temple complex, a few miles outside the modern town of Siem Reap. It is carved in sandstone, and has then been lacquered before being painstakingly decorated with copper leaf. It depicts a military scene in the style of the temple’s bas-reliefs. Its dimensions are W. 135cm x H. 75cm x L. 5cm.
The bas-reliefs at Angkor Wat are impressive for their vast size and how well they have lasted, dating back to the construction of the site in the early 12th century. The carvings cover over 1200 square meters (nearly 13,000 square feet) of sandstone. They depict scenes representing the Battle of Kurukshetra, the army of Suryavarman II, Heaven and Hell, the Churning of the Ocean of Milk, Vishnu conquering the Asuras, Krishna and the Bana, the Demon King, the Battle of the Gods and the Demons, and the Battle of Lanka. There is a great deal of detail to take in and the visitor should allow plenty of time to see it all.
In this specific detail of bas-relief you can see the elephant transporting the military leaders as they march their troops into battle. The leaders are seen to be from the higher classes from the number of canopies held over their heads – not enough for a ruler but a sure sign of the importance of these people.