\n\u00a0A solo traveler\u2019s journey is a quest for the unknown, not quite knowing what the destination or goal is, nor knowing what exactly to expect. And, just as in the journey of life, sometimes, you trudge along empty handed, still seeking, still searching, and at other times, the journey- like life \u2013 rewards and delights you beyond imagination.\nMy trip to Angkor Wat did the latter.\nBeing allergic to history lessons since childhood, I left for Cambodia equipped with as much knowledge of its ancient civilization, as could fit into a single sentence. All I knew was that they had great monuments that are worth looking at for their stunning architectural beauty. So I went with just a backpack and half a page full of jottings from the lonely planet website.\nThe day at Angkor Wat began with sluggish walking and lazy viewing because of the hot white roasting sunshine. A picture taken here and another there. Resting on the cold stones for hours every few minutes! And through this cumbersome tedious walk in the heat, I began noticing the ladies in stone.\nInitially, I did not think about them at all, because they are an expected feature in temples in the region anyway. But as I walked on and found them all over the walls, and on every panel, I inadvertently began absorbing their details.\nAnd a spellbinding awareness dawned upon me slowly \u2013 slower than the pace at which I walked \u2013 that they wore the most amazing adornments I had ever seen on sculptures.\nTextile adornments, jewel adornments and possibly flower & bird adornments. I was awe-struck, and from then on, my attention and my camera were energized and devoured by the varied adornments of these ladies.\nMy reaction was envy, frustration and delight; I was envious that I didn\u2019t have all their wonderful things; I was frustrated that it would never ever be possible to examine the physical articles that these sculptures depicted. And I was delighted that the trip yielded more viewing pleasure than I had anticipated.\nThe net take-away was that I profited as much from finding these adornments as I did from understanding the complex architecture of the temples \u2026\u2026.\nTHE TEMPLES \nAngkor Wat\n\n\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 \n\n\n \nThis is the oldest temple built around the year 1100. As I sat amongst the large stones that were laid out during the restoration, on level 3 of the temple, it seemed to me that the diagonal distances between the corner towers in each subsequent layer, were in the Fibonacci number sequence. When I checked with the google gods, none of this was confirmed but it appears that Fibonacci sequence does connect the Angkor Wat and the pyramids in a way that I have yet to read and understand !!!\nBanteay Srei is the most intricately sculpted carved temple in the area. The ornaments of the ladies in red stone show much greater detail.\n\u00a0\n \nBeng Mealea\nPic 10a, \n\u00a0\nThis place totally took my breath away. It is currently in the \u2018jungled\u2019 condition that Angkor Wat must have been in, just a few years ago. The meaning of \u2018ruin\u2019 is conveyed perfectly by taking a precarious walk through the various chambers of the temple, over the fallen stones and overgrown roots, as the forces of the earth gradually consume the manmade structure.\nPic 10b, 11, 12\n \nI heard about Angkor for the first time through Somerset Maugham\u2019s writing \u2013 who in an entirely different context also mentions that \u2018In 50 years none of this will matter\u2019. This impactful line came to life, when I experienced these ruins \u2013 that were once beautiful living structures built on investments of love, spirit, effort and dreams of an invincible eternity.\nBayon\nBayon was built later, and the fashionistas at Bayon exhibit different adornments from the ones at Angkor Wat.\n \nPic 13-15\nThe number and range of adornments, found in the sculptures at Angkor Wat, Banteay Srei and Bayon, suggest that this aspect of life was an important one in the Khmer life of that time. Below I have put down some of what I captured.\n\n TEXTILE ADORNMENTS\n\n\n1.1 MATERIAL / COLORS\nI do not know if real textiles have been found from the 1000 year old ruins.\nPic 17 \n\nBut the drape and fall of the fabric, as seen in the picture above, suggest that these are fine delicate cottons or silks, and therefore it seems unlikely that they would have survived the forces that even stone structures succumbed to. Therefore the material and colors of the sculpted garments can only be a guess.\n( The only knowledge that we do have from that era, is from the records of a Chinese traveler Zhou Daguan (or Chou Ta-Kuan), who provided an account of life in the kingdom sometime before 1312. He was translated into French by sinologist Paul Pelliot in 1902. )\n1.2 GARMENT FORMS\nIn the Angkor period, unstitched cloth was used while, stitched garments for the upper body are seen in the later Bayon sculptures.\nThe lower garment is a sarong like cloth worn either as a wrap around skirt fastened at the waist with a jewelry belt, or worn like a \u2018dhoti\u2019 by drawing the loose end through the legs and fastening it at the back.\nPic 18\n\nNote the two corners of the skirt peeping from the back of the waist, and the low circular arc in which is tied in the front.\nIn addition a long broad sash is seen, which is either woven or printed. The medium of the sculptor, restricts him from distinguishing a weave from a print \u2013 so again, it\u2019s for us to guess what created the floral and other motifs that are seen. The sashes are pleated and tucked in, and emerge from the inner fold of the skirt on the right side, and is free flowing on the left side.\n1.3 WEAVING PATTERNS or PRINT MOTIFS\nSimple four-petalled flowers are scattered across most textiles. Thin borders with varying designs are seen.\n\nPic 20\nFlowers with a varying scatter density on the two sides\nPic 21\nLarge flowers with vertical stripes\nPic 22 Flat-petalled flowers\n\nPic 23 Pointed petalled flowers in checkerboard pattern\n\nPic 24 Flowers & circles pattern\n\nPic 25 No pattern ( or maybe it got wiped out ) and a simple border\n\nPic 26 Border pattern\n\nPic 27 Sash with intricate Zigzag weave\n\nPic 28 Intricate floral weave on sash\n\nPic 29 Hybrid floral-zigzag weave on sash\n\nPic 30 Curved or fish-scale weave on sash\n\n1.4 GARMENT DRAPING FORMAT\nPic 31 Lady carrying her sash garment with grace. Note the end peeping from the back of her waist has only a single corner compared to the one in picture 18, that has 2 corners.\n\nPic 32 The garment seems to be folded over beyond the top of the belt. The loose woven flap that extends diagonally in front, all the way down to the calves is also arranged differently.\n\nPic 33 The flap and the perfect circular tying at the waist are noteworthy.\n\nPic 34 The flap is arranged differently. The design motifs also connect the flowers creating a lattice. ( the words I using below to describe these are lay people terms )\n\nPic 35 The unstitched cloth is tied like a pair of shorts.\n\nPic 36 Curved loose end of the sash\n\nPic 37 Checkered loin cloth\n\nPic 38 Loin cloth\n\nThe following are from the Bayon temple\nPic 39 Stitched blouse\n\nPic 40 Blouse\n\nPic 41 Long kurta\n\nPic 42 Long robes\n\nPic 43 Man in a lungi\n\nPic 44 Long sleeveless shirt & skirt\n\nPic 45 Half shirt similar to a \u2018bandi\u2019 worn in other places\n\nPic 46 Twisted textile loin cloth\n\nPic 47 Woven or padded? Skirt\n\nAll the new fashions ( pic 39 onwards ) seen in Bayon panels may be representative of the visiting tradesmen from other cultures.\n1.5 GARMENTS AS STATUS SYMBOLS\nI quote from Zhou Daguan\u2019s text: \u201cThere are many rules concerning what materials can be worn by persons of different rank. Among the materials worn by the sovereign, there are some which are worth more than three or four ounces of gold; they are extremely fine and costly. Although fabrics are woven in the country, some come from Siam(Thailand) and Champa,(Vietnam) but the most esteemed are in general those which come from India for their fine and delicate texture. Only the ruler can dress in cloth with an all-over floral design. The important officials and princes can wear cloth with groups of bunched flowers. Ordinary mandarins are only allowed to wear cloth with two bunches of flowers. Among the people only women are authorised to wear these cloths\u201d \u201cWhen officials go out, their insignia and attendants are decided according to rank\u201d This includes parasols and palanquins of different kinds. \u201cAll these parasols are made of red Chinese taffeta and their \u2018fringe\u2019 comes down to the ground. Oiled parasols are all made with green taffeta and their \u2018fringe\u2019 is short.\u201d\n1.6 TEXTILES AS LIFESTYLE ARTICLES\nPic 48 Curtains on the palanquin\n\nPic 49 Large Hand fans\n\nPic 50 Carriage curtains\n\nPic 51 \u2013 52 Elephant Covers\n\nPic 53 \u2013 56 Procession Parasols, torches? & flags\n \nPic 57 Seat cover\n\nAdornments extend beyond textiles, to hairstyles and jewelry.\n\n HAIRSTYLES & HAIR ADORNMENTS \n\nPic 58 About half the hairstyles that I found.\n\n\n JEWEL ADORNMENTS\n\n\u00a0\nPic 59 Mixed jewelry \u2013 for the neck, waist, hands\u2026\nPic 60 Jewelry for the feet\n\nPic 61 Jewelry for the ears\n\nEND NOTE\nSomeday I will go back with a better camera and take serious pictures of these elements that say so much about the adornment arts of the Khmer world.\nActually \u2013 perhaps the temple carvings are a blog written in stone, documenting the fashion of the time!\njm\nwritten years ago!\nFirst published on Turkotek.com\n[I must have thought the title to be very clever at that time! A \u2018warped\u2019 look\u2026?!!!]\nThe post The Threads of Khmer History \u2013 a \u2018Warped\u2019 look at the Temples of Angkor appeared first on The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM.