THe Lone Apsara

THe Lone Apsara

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fame...debunked (read on)

Fame...debunked (read on)
I just wanted to share this... I am also learning as I go about the whole E publishing process. Thank you Melissa for sharing!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Hidden Aspects of Writing

The Hidden Aspects of Writing
Writing is a very long drawn out process and even after the book is done and you have it in the hand of a publisher you are asked to edit. This is a great article.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bonding With Characters

Bonding With Characters
I found that when writing the Kings of Angkor, which I am currently editing the final proofs. I really fell in love with the characters that I created. There were times when they surprised me and there were times when I thought I had something cemented down or so I thought that was my creation but found it to be a part of history and there was no way I could have known that. But how did I? I would get goose bumps after one of those moments. I was doing a lot of research along with writing so there were times I would just write and then go back and do the research, because the way I looked at it I wanted to get the story down and I could always clean it up after. Which I did many times. It was a wonderful learning time. It was a time when I poured out my love of history to create this book and characters. Something that won't end with just the first book.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Angkor and The Titanic

That may seem a strange title and you my say what in the world does Angkor wat which is located in Cambodia have to do with THe Titanic? Well I will get to that.
Here are some cold facts that I am sure many of you have seen before or at least heard:

Titanic Survivors

Of the 2,223 passengers on the Titanic, only 706 survived leaving 1,517 dead. The largest percentage of survivors were first class passengers, followed by second class, and finally third class. Most of the deaths were due to hypothermia in the freezing water, which would cause death in less than 15 minutes. 6 of the 7 children in first class survived. All of the children in second class survived, whereas only 34 percent were saved in third class. 4 first class women died, 86 percent women survived in second class and less than half survived in third class. Overall, only 20 percent of the men survived, compared to nearly 75 percent of the women. First-class men were four times as likely to survive as second-class men, and twice as likely to survive as third class men. Another disparity is that a greater percentage of British passengers died than American passengers; some sources claim this could be because many Britons of the time were too polite and queued, rather than to force and elbow their way onto the lifeboats as some Americans did. The captain, Edward John Smith, shouted out: “Be British, boys, be British!” as the ocean liner went down, according to witnesses.
What brought this subject to mind is yesterday my son Daniel was home sick and was watching the movie "The Titanic". He asked questions so I started telling him about what I knew. I have another son who is 11 who was given on his birthday an collectors book of the Sinking of The Titanic. He at a very young was outraged at the fact that most of the 3rd class passengers never stood a chance. You can see from the figures above how it was.
I was just reading in the book that my son Ian was given, the name of the book is "Titanic, The Truth Behind the Disaster" . I had read before how the life boats were under filled. I have a photo of a half filled life boats. Well back to one instance where a Lady Duff Gordon, her husband Sir Cosmo and her secretary were in Life Boat #1. That boat held only twelve when it was launched. That was probably the worse example of under filling of a life boat. Surprisingly The 1997 movie on the Titanic, had scenes that were actually factual, like the orchestra and staying to play "Nearer, my God, to Thee" while passengers tried to get on life boats.
Here is something from the inquiry about the filling of the lifeboats.

At the British investigation, Charles Lightoller as the senior surviving officer was questioned about the fact that the lifeboats were not filled to capacity. They had been tested in Belfast on 25th March 1912 and each boat had carried seventy men safely. When questioned about the filling of lifeboat number six, Lightoller testified that the boat was filled with as many people as he considered to be safe. Lightoller believed that it would be impossible to fill the boats to capacity before lowering them to sea without the mechanism that held them collapsing. He was questioned as to whether he had arranged for more people to be put into the boats once it was afloat. Lightoller admitted that he should have made some arrangement for the boats to be filled once they were afloat. When asked if the crew member in charge of lifeboat number six was told to return to pick up survivors, the inquiry was told that the crew member was told to stay close to the ship. (questions 13883 - 13910) Lifeboat number 6 was designed to hold 65 people. It left with 40.

Titanic also carried 3500 lifebelts and 48 life rings; Useless in the icy water. The majority of passengers that went into the sea did not drown, but froze to death.

Many people were confused about where they should go after the order to launch the lifeboats had been given. There should have been a lifeboat drill on 14th April, but the Captain cancelled it to allow people to go to church.

Many people believed that Titanic was not actually sinking but that the call to the lifeboats was actually a drill and stayed inside rather than venture out onto the freezing deck.

Life Boat #1 carried 12, Life boat #6 that carried Margaret Brown or as she later became known as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" and Helen Churchill Candee who would go on to write one of the first survivor accounts and then later go on to travel to Cambodia and Angkor Wat.
Some asked why they waited for over an hour before even launching any of the life boats. Something we will never know.
I read an account of a young brother and sister who were buffeted from side to side by people scrambling to find a way to get onto a life boat. When all the 1st class passengers were safely aboard life boats that could get onto one (But again they were under filled) at that, These two were trying in vain to find their family. They were standing on the deck crying and a man who the young boy later identified as Col. John Jacob Astor put them in a life boat after he made sure his young pregnant wife was safely aboard a boat. That was the last time anyone saw that man, the richest man at that time in the world went down with the mightiest ocean going vessle.
So now I get back to why the Titanic and Angkor Wat are connected... because of one survivor Helen Churchill Candee.
Helen Churchill Candee wrote in 1922 from Angkor Wat:
It is with hesitation that I mention the larger ladies of the carvings, the Tevadas or sacred dancers. I am made shy in their presence, while they remain unperturbed. They are so many to know all at once, and their character is to me unfathomable.
Helen Candee
Angkor Wat, 1922
Her account was one of the first English accounts of this wonderful place. Up till then most accounts were in French.
I have a lot of old travelogues but this one means a great deal to me being about the country of my natural children's birth and where my grandchildren still live. I lived there for about 11 years and hope to get back there this coming May.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Final page proofs

Well as I have said before when I read this book I love it, fall in love with the characters all over again. One of my friends in Cambodia, Pou Khlaing who is singer and entertainer and who has read the book from start to finish said one of the main characters reminded him of a French Cambodian with his speech and actions. I didn't even realize that was how I was portraying him. The main male character is very rich, from the royal family. Knows five languages. He is the type of man that all he has to do is look or speak one word and he has the whole army at his disposal. You will see he is multi faceted person.
I was just reading the scene of the first party of the Cambodian New year that is at his home and anyone who has been to any big party or wedding in Cambodia knows dancing is very important. After the traditional dancing comes more western dancing as the older guest leave. If you can picture gowns of every shade in the world. Real silks, satins, lace, sequins and sparkle. A swirl of color and add to that a very sensual dance so the couple have a chance to dance, getting to know one another. During that dance the aunt of one of the characters is talking to another guest, someone in the Gov. This guest seeing the two dance wonders aloud why the two main characters aren't together he knows who and what Nurung is. As my nephew said "Time travel is not going back in time so much but a parallel time that co-exist with the present."
So this dance that I created with the swirl of color, the movements, though clean, was to Usher's "Love in the Club" with Beyonc'e. It was the tune that helped me to create the scene.
Creating a contemporary character to go with Jayavarman VII who is on my cover was a joy. I fell in love with the king. He came to the throne at around the age of 60, was cousin to Suryavarman II who built Angkor Wat(The building). He was twenty years older then I will have my Jayavarman VII. He was the builder king adding on to make Angkor Wat the largest religious structure in the world that still stands. He kicked the butt of his enemies and then had a peaceful reign for the most part till in his 90s. His rein was at same time as King Richard the Lion the Hearted. He had two queens that reined and ruled with him at the same time, sisters. I dealt with that in a way that I could because this book and the next one are the story of this great king and 'his'Queen Indradevi. So enough said for now...

Monday, July 4, 2011

A quote from a Queen...

I thought I would give you all a quote that has come down through the ages from Queen Indradevi, queen to Jayavarman VII.
"His glory went from himself to the four points of space..."

Sunday, June 26, 2011

photos of Angkor Thom

I am always on the lookout for new photos as I work on my 2nd book to keep me busy till my first book gets back from my editor. AndI am always researching and searching for photos to help me picture the time when my characters lived. I found this site with some fabulous photos that I hope you all enjoy.
The link I found I had to copy and past but then after pasting it in the google search I was able to view. if I can figure how to fix I will. The photo, I am going to have to check and see in my book of bas reliefs which king it is. Being Angkor Thom I would think it is Jayavarman VII but not sure.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Apsaras...

This is another example of these women in motion. I firmly believe these women were real, breathing, living day in, day out at Angkor. Serving in some way. Some may have been just dancers, I think their purpose there was broader. Whether they were dancers, guardians, protectors, wives to officials, lovers to the

King and or someone in the royal family. These women lived and breathed. Their image has been preserved for all time for us to behold but wonder who they were. Oh, to have but a day with them...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Well it's been a while since I have done a post. I am really itching to write but have no time. That's what happens when you have to work for a living and your kids are home on vacation. It's taken me two weeks to come to terms with the lack of time. The first couple days I was so stressed because I couldn't sit down and write. I know it will only get worse as my summer work schedule will start the 4th of July week-end. BUT though I can't write I can read and do research and also help my son Brendan on TRTF,the movie(The Road to Freedom). I told him I will help in a anyway I can. I am looking into any way I can get publicity for my book, it's a learning process and also now for his movie which will be released on a limited basis around the country and overseas.
So though I have been silent on the 2nd book, I am always working on it, just not getting many pages written. BUT I haven't planned on this one being a fast book. It's going to be much more in detail then the first. The first was the ground breaking book, my debute. Hopefully with this book I will gain an audience and an interest in The Kings of Angkor. I am anxiously awaiting to get my manuscript back from my editor to start on the editing.
When I do research I bounce ideas off my friend Kent Davis who is a lead researcher for the Apsaras. I read articles and then write up an email and if he is in the states he gets right back to me.
I was reading an article of his and it had this photo that I am going to put on here. When I saw the photo of the Apsaras and Devatas I could almost see the motion, like I had caught them moving. I think I read somewhere a description of them, this one group as nymphs, I think it's fitting. so I wanted to enclose it. I think if I have my way this will be my life's work. write novels so I can hopefully live off the income and then conduct research on these fascinating women who once lived.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Queens

Jayavarman VII had two queens. At the time he came to the throne he was in his 60s and lived to be 90 or older. Pretty good considering the time he lived. I am sure like any of the kings of his time ,in that area of the world he not only had his queens but also multiple wives and concubines. BUT unlike the other Kings of Angkor he had two queens who reigned at the same time, with him. They were also sisters... Fortunately I have the photos from a Cambodian American who has been doing research on them. Where once many thought they were only Apsaras, with her work you can see the difference. The only thing we know of them is in the reliefs at Angkor Thom and Preah Khan. Just reliefs, no written history, just pictures in stone. So making one of the queens, Indradevi 3 dimensional is going to take all my creative powers. I had already created her, Indradevi, before I knew she really existed. I had named her Devi then found out one of his Queens was Indradevi... talk about one of those moments. Anyway I will be showing you more here about her as I find out. This 2nd book and the 3rd will be about the reign of the greatest King of Angkor Wat and his queen. Their story is too much, too big to confine to just one book. He was the builder King, the Buddha King. Once he was able to get the Cham out of his country he reigned in peace and built. He and his wives were the royal trio or triad, building roads and hospitals. Taking care of their people. The queens while they both lived, taught, were his wives and advisors. His building of Angkor Thom dwarfed Angkor Wat. If you look at satellite photos you can see the difference.
Well now that I have written for a while maybe I can sleep.
I just added a photo of a satellite image. In the photo you can se Angkor Thom in the upper left and then Angkor Wat below it.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Cham Invasion

Here are some photos of the Bas Reliefs at Angkor Wat and The Bayon depicting the invasion of the Cham. It's the only record out there of this invasion. Much research is being done on my end about this period of time of Angkor. More photos will be added this afternoon..

Saturday, May 28, 2011

History, writing and random thoughts...

Well there is much to be said about being up in the middle of the night or the wee hours of the morning when you can't sleep... the house is very quiet, the kids are not fighting. The only noise I can hear now is the dog snoring and the cats coming to check me out and probably wondering why I am up?
It happens of late when I get woken up suddenly and then get a migraine from jumping up to the sound of a dog barking outside and wondering in my sleep, "Why is the dog barking outside ?" So now I am up...
It's hard during the week, I don't have time to write and so I put the part of my brain that writes to rest. Then towards the end of the week I start to wake up again, plotting my next part in the book. Really I am always playing with the characters, thinking out the next part. It's not just as aggressive, because I know I won't have time to write. So instead of getting really frustrated with myself I have learned to leave it till I know I can tackle it. Really that's good, very, very good in fact because I can be a real bear if I am working on my book on the week-end and I haven't the time to get out my thoughts... Things I want to get done slide and all I can focus on are character development and the next scene... Funny how watching an Eminem and Dr. Dre music video and how Eminem tells how trying to get his ideas out and working on a song the only one who understood him was Dr. Dre. He was the only one to take a chance on a 'white kid', how he just felt like he was going crazy, no one understood him . Like my son Brendan I think is a genius and he gets ideas and because he isn't loaded with money yet it takes a while, sometimes a great while to get a project underway. BUT he has a select few who he can talk to , share his dreams and visions. I think when you have creative, gifted people in your house well it's probably hard on the other ones in the house, I don't know I don't have to live with myself BUT I do know when I am in my creative bent I know if I am happy I am easy to live with myself, but if I am frustrated for lack of time or I am having a hard time getting my idea out or I feel like all I am writing is just junk, like pulling teeth then I am not a happy camper and thus no one else is going to be very happy. So it's good to have someone to talk to, someone who understands how it is dealing with creative energy and being frustrated. Your loved ones can say "yea,yea" but to really understand. To know what it is like having ideas but until you can see them come to fruition it is really frustrating and then on top of it if you lack the resources to get things moving well it's nice to have someone who can help or can help be a mentor or be that one who sees what you are saying or trying to convey ... LOL writing in the middle of the night has it's advantages BUT it also has it's disadvantages, you are still half asleep and it's hard to peg down that idea and make it come to life...
It's nice I can talk to my older kids, bounce ideas off them, sometimes long distance, like Meg. Or when I am driving my older son to school, telling him something. It helps just to be able to voice what you are thinking and then it doesn't sound so out there or at least they don't tell you they think it's whacked and out there but they listen patiently. That's why it's nice to be able tot talk to my kids, each one whether it be like my other daughter who is home right now I can talk to her too and tell her things and though I am not sure she always understands I think she is getting there at least she listens too. So I have my little support net work. Brendan , well he shares his visions, like he did a few years ago. I couldn't see it then, couldn't grasp it but then last February he tried again, telling me about his KOA idea and how "can you help me research Mom?" "Sure says I" and then I realized I didn't just want to do research but i wanted to write this story... How it felt to get to a part and write it and then find out, OMG what I was forming in my mind was actually true, not just something I dreamed up in my head. Some how I knew things and it gave me chills because I would have whatever already firmly established in my little brain then 'bass ackwards' do some research and find out that was the way it was... Now mind you i don't always do things backwards. Most of the time I do my research before but sometimes i get ahead of myself and just want to write, let the creative juices flow... research later. So I try to be as historically accurate as possible... timetables, events, kings, rulers but there will be something I don't get right and I apologize now if i get it wrong or if I take a ruler from one hundred years before and put him with my characters now... he just seemed like the better villain...
WEll it's now past 4am and the birds are singing... I am going to try and go back to bed.
History... working with historical figures, even though there isn't a whole lot out there on them to glean from I try to be a good steward with what knowledge I have of them. To use it correctly ,to not be disrespectful in bringing them to life again. I am dealing with people who to this day have descendants who still reign over a country that my older children live in. There is a bit of room to work with some of the minor characters and since in this second book I am only just writing it, I have a lot of time to write, write and re-write. Many drafts and edits till I get it just right and feel good and comfortable about what I am writing.
How will I feel once my first book comes out? I am sure I will be very happy, over the top happy in fact. I will probably be walking on cloud nine with my feet off the ground. I am already thinking of my book launch party and have already talked with Barry King about having it on the Schooner Mary Day. She is where I feel very happy and relaxed and so I think it's fitting I have my first party there. Then there will be one in Cambodia...

Monday, May 23, 2011

"The Apparatus of State"

That is the description for the photo I had on the last post of the Queen or Princess giving a blessing. It is on the South Wall Gallery. As always my friend Kent Davis came to the recue and told me where I can find more information on the bas reliefs.

There is a second one that he sent me. Now to find the book that will help me to understand more about these great portraits of life at Angkor.

Learning from the past

It's not easy finding out about a time, it's people the country that is almost 1000 years ago. The only thing left to give me even a hint is the bas reliefs of Angkor Wat and The Bayon. At Angkor Wat you have mythology and wars gracing the bas reliefs. At the Bayon it's everyday life. That's what I am looking for and researching at the moment. Anything that will give me a hint about the everyday, the mundane. I am also doing research on a major battle but in amongst the battles life goes on. Well until all hell breaks loose.
So though I may have already put these photos on I want to explain a difference with them.

The first one is more then likely one of the grand marches that shows the troops as they are going off to war. I am trying to find more information on it.

The second one is of King Suryavarman II being fanned and sitting under umbrellas.

The third that I just posted recently looks like a Queen or Princess blessing people or monks. Since I think it was from the Bayon, it may have been one of Jayavarman's Queens, he had two that reigned with him at the same time. They were very involved with everyday life, taught and were well respected. This one is my pet project at the moment.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bas relief at Angkor Wat

I have to get myself organized for writing this week-end, probably will edit but wanted to show you some of the walls at Angkor, that tell the story.
Have a great day and week-end!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Getting your mind back in the present

You know it's not easy when you are in a writing grove and all you want to do is write,write,write... Your mind is on the characters, plotting, scenes and sequence. Should I add this, take out that. Your mind is back almost a thousand years and trying to recreate a time, culture, people who for the most part existed. Most of my characters are real and though there isn't a whole lot written about them I do have one surviving record written by a Chinese diplomat who visited Angkor at the time of the last King of Angkor. He will be the final king in my book. I also have the reliefs on the walls of Angkor and the Bayon that I can study.
Some days I find it very hard trying to keep my characters back in the back reaches of my brain, they want to come to the forefront... so come the week-ends I am wanting to write like crazy. Not easy when you have other responsibilities that beckon. So I try to balance.
Life is a balance.
may you all find your balance and peace today!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The second book.

A quick post here. Have been working on the 2nd book, I am up to 50 pages which is a milestone for me. Makes me very happy. I am also very happy to announce that the third book in the series is taking shape... With the help of a book on Cambodian dancers, and Pou Khlaing who is a Cambodian singer and friend of mine ( he asked me what I thought about this certain idea???) and I said OMG I have been tossing that idea around and just this moment I now know what King will be in it. So I am very happy to now have the third book firmly in my brain. More info as I come along.
All of you have a great day, I have to get to work early.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Khmer Wedding Outfits

I really wish I could scan my daughter Megan's wedding dress pictures. She was stunning. I can't remember how many times and gowns she had throughout the day. I had two. One for morning and then one for the evening. I think Megan had 13-15 gowns, I will have to ask her. Anyway here are photos I found to give you an idea of what Khmer Wedding gowns look like,

for the morning ceremony anyway.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Planning of a Royal Wedding...

No, this isn't about The Wedding that the whole world watched yesterday, with me included but the Royal Wedding that will take place in Cambodia in the 2nd book. I am starting my wedding planner job, bought a wedding magazine, will be consulting designers (Not really)for the gown that will be worn at night. The ceremony will be all traditional Cambodian so only traditional gowns will be worn during the day. There will be quite the extensive wedding guest list. Not only will the current King of Cambodia be invited but other members of that royal family and the King-Father, King Norodom Sihanouk. Pou Khlaing will head up the list of Cambodian A listers and then there will be Cambodian Dignitaries and then foreign dignitaries and royals .
I hope you all don't mind all the little hints and sneak peaks at the second book. I am loving this next book... I think the crowning jewel or piece de resistance of this book will be either the invasion of the Cham up the Mekong and the Tonle Sap to sack ancient Angkor Wat or the wedding.
Ok, no more hints...
Back to work then yard work

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cambodian Dance and Dancers
Here are a couple sketches from the book. I can't wait to purchase it.

Check it out.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Driving and Plotting... or is that Plotting while Driving...

Well it's my day off, I just got back from running errands and boy it's rough when I am in one of these writing moods... Plotting while driving isn't something I like to do and no matter what I do to clear my brain while driving it's there, characters and scenes jumping up in front of me...
I am excited because this next book, if it goes the way I want it will be even better then the first. That's why I don't want to rush it. The next part in this book is a royal wedding. I can remember the planning that went on for first the engagement ceremony for my daughter Megan and Mean and then a month later for their wedding. I thought, and may have voiced it "And I thought the engagement planning was bad, a wedding in a months time, this is going to kill me." I think Mean's mother said the same thing. Though really I didn't do much compared to Megan who was handling the brunt of everything. Well in my book a wedding is going to happen and it's a royal wedding so I will be the wedding planner. For this wedding I am using anything I can get my hands on plus my daughter Megan and son-in-law Mean will be helping me and already are. They are a blessing! When talking to Megan yesterday she was out and about looking for books on anything she could find to help that if she does find she will bring with her when she comes in June.
So now that I have had my lunch of Greek yogurt I will get back to work.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I am about to get down to some serious writing but wanted to write here for just a moment. Yesterday and Friday I was doing quite a bit of research and then working on the next few scenes of this next book(Book 2) and I was also working on pre-publicity for the first book. I know my publisher will be setting up a book launch in my area and regional signings but I want more then that. So while I plot and write this next book which will be longer and more in depth I am working on publicity and hopes to get the word out. Today my head doesn't spin with overload which is good. Yesterday I had far too many things going on plus while doing research I was also working with my daughter for the first's books publicity in Cambodia where I hope to do a launch and book trailer. More about that later...
Like my son I keep thinking positive and work hard for that prize at the end of the rainbow or is it the pot of gold? For me it's getting my book published and having it well received.
Happy Easter Everyone!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Uncle George Reisner

The reason for this post is to just show some interesting information on my mother's family. When I was little I would look at some very old photos of my great grand parents with a Mary and George Reisner. This was before I got into genealogy. Later in life I would still look at this photo and wonder who they were. Then one day I found out about Author Elizabeth Peters and her character who was an archeologist Amelia Peabody. I was hooked and read everything by that author and devoured that series. I even wrote to the author and she was always gracious enough to answer me.
Then one day I received a email while living in Cambodia. It was from the current director of the Giza project at The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and wondering if I was related to Walter Talcott Bronson since they found my name on a genealogy site? I wrote back and said "Yes, that was my grandfather."
They wrote back and said guess what, you are the niece to George Reisner, by marriage, but his niece non the less. His wife was my grandfather's only sister. She spent part her life in Germany but most of it in Egypt with her husband. Then it dawned on me the old photo... I can tell you I was doing a happy dance. I then wrote right away to Author Elizabeth Peters who I knew would enjoy hearing this. It was like winning the mega bucks lottery. He had been one of two of the most well known, respected and loved archeologist of his day.
Why did I put this article here? Because of him I have my main female character in my book as an archeologist and the grand niece to him, though her name is Anna Oldenburg. Oldenburg is from the other side of my mother's family .So it's kinda like 'all roads lead to Rome'. GIZA LIBRARY

George Andrew Reisner

Birth: Indianapolis, Indiana, November 5, 1867
Death: Giza, Egypt, June 6, 1942
One of the most prominent founding fathers of modern scientific archaeology, Egyptologist George Andrew Reisner was born in Indianapolis in 1867 to a German-American family originally from Worms. Reisner eventually made his way east to Harvard University for his B.A. (1889), M.A. (1891), and Ph.D. (1893) degrees. In 1893, one year after his marriage to Mary Bronson, he became a Travelling Fellow of Harvard and left for Berlin to study first Semitics and then ancient Egyptian under Adolf Erman and Kurt Sethe. Reisner returned to Harvard in 1896, where he obtained a post as Instructor in Semitics.

George Reisner, from The Rotarian
49, no. 1 (July 1936), p. 23
(Photo by Bob Davis of the
New York Sun); June 26, 1933
In 1897 he spent a year in Cairo working on the Catalogue Général Project for the Egyptian Museum, then received five years' funding for excavation from California-based Mrs. Phoebe Apperson Hearst, mother of the well-known newspaper publisher W. R. Hearst. Reisner concentrated on the great cemeteries of Naga ed-Deir, as well as the sites of Quft and Deir el-Ballas. He applied the methodical approach he had learned in Berlin to his excavation techniques, and began to develop a unique working system. He emphasized field photography as a fundamental element of the archaeological process, and established a wide range of expedition record books and numbering systems. Reisner attained his most important site concession in 1902: the Old Kingdom cemeteries surrounding the three great pyramids of Giza. From 1905 on, his expedition was supported by Harvard University and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. By 1910 he was or had been Archaeological Director of the Nubian Archaeological Survey by the Egyptian Government (1907–9), Director of the Harvard Excavations at Samaria, Palestine (1909–10), assistant Professor of Semitic Archaeology (1905–10), Director of the Harvard–Boston Egyptian Expedition, Professor of Egyptology at Harvard University, and Curator of the Egyptian Department of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Arthur Merton (London Times), Alfred Lucas, George Reisner, Dows Dunham, and Noel F. Wheeler, outside the magazine for G 7000 X, Hetepheres I; April 11, 1927 (B6205)

(Peter Der Manuelian)

This first photo was him on a work site there in the shadow of the pyramids at Giza.

The middle shot is of Uncle George Reisner with his wife seated next to him, The Princess Ileana of Romania, Queen Maria of Romania and their daughter Miss Mary Reisner.

The bottom photo is of him at his 70th Birthday celebration with friends, workers and family. My Grandfather's sister who was married to George is seated to his right with white shoes, Mary Bronson Reisner. Their daughter Miss Mary Reisner is to his left.

Banteay Chhmar in 1937

Here is an article written back in 1937

Banteay Chhmar 1937 – Ancient Khmer City in Cambodia
By George Groslier
Special thanks to Nicole Groslier for providing original photos and for her kind permission to translate this draft of her father’s article, which later appeared in L’Illustration magazine, April 3, 1937. The translator assumes all responsibility for errors. Serious researchers should consult M. Groslier’s final article in the original French.

Banteay Meanchey, Cambodia - If one ventures to the north-western borders of Cambodia, one arrives in a region surrounded at right angles by the extreme western end of the Dangrek mountain chain. Beyond them lies Siam. Occupying 2 or 3,000 square kilometers, this area is nearly deserted. Consisting of soil made of clay and sand, crossed by some dry rivers six months of the year, it offers nothing to the traveler but uncultivated plains and sparsely wooded forests whose trees remain stunted due to fires that rage in the dry season.

Villages become increasingly rare, finally disappearing completely. In the summer, there is no game and torrid heat; in winter, the area is subjected to violent storms deflected by the mountains. This is the most desolate place in Cambodia. Still, however, ruins are found there; an imposing array of monuments from an ancient empire. Among these ruins is not only one of the largest Khmer temples that we know of (including those of the Angkor group), but also one of largest temples in the world. This temple is known as Banteay Chhmar.

What series of events inspired the builders eight centuries ago, at the height of Angkor’s power, to choose to settle in such a desolate region? And why did they later abandon the site that presents itself to us in the ruinous state that we now find it today? Here is one of the most intriguing puzzles in the history of Cambodia. We cannot address this issue here, but to understand the facts, it is helpful to know that the Khmers organized the places they inhabited bit by bit, and that their irrigation works, which we will examine in depth, made them livable and perhaps prosperous.

Banteay Chhmar temple plan.
Today, the temple of Banteay Chhmar is almost entirely collapsed. The two authors who previously published descriptions of it — Etienne Aymonier around 1883, then Lunet de Lajonquière around 1903 — both noted that of all the Khmer monuments that they had explored Banteay Chhmar was the most ruined, the largest, the most chaotic…and the most indecipherable.

In their summaries Aymonier and de Lajonquière also gave contradictory sketches and descriptions of many pages. This attracted us to reexamine this remote group of temples. We had to make four visits over the course of several years because the temple is only accessible for two months per year. After three campaigns, we still had not even been able to reach the foundations of the walls. Despite our efforts and best intentions we risked only adding to the questions, and augmenting the work of our predecessors by very little. It was then that Mr. George Cœdès, Director of the French School of the Far East (EFEO), helped us with appropriations to support our project. We were able to immediately dispatch a team of forty coolies who gave us fifteen days of labor. But their work was only enough to enable us to probe about a third of the essential areas inaccessible in our former research.

Banteay Chhmar's main temple (small grey square at left) is encircled by 8 secondary temples and a vast artificial reservoir with the Mebon temple built on an island in the center.
The second site plan that we present here introduces the identification of the temples and hydraulic works that remain from the ancient city. The “Baray” is a reservoir formed by a rectangular seawall, 3 meters high on average, that encloses an area of 1,276,450 square meters (1,526,621 sq. yards). Inside edges are entirely lined with laterite blocks, which gave easy access to the water. Originally a river, now dried out, fed this vast reservoir that also collected rain water.

Ruins of the boat landing terrace on the Baray. Excavations by the EFEO revealed carved lotus flowers and sacred geese with wings spread.
Close to the center, the Khmers created an artificial island where they constructed a “Mebon” temple (i.e. a temples situated in the center of a Baray). On the Baray’s west seawall, the Khmers built an embarkation terrace for boat traffic to the central temple (photo above). Its foundation stones, originally submerged in water, are sculpted with open-winged aquatic birds among lotuses. The dimensions of this architectural element, the style of its décor, its bold position, dominated by the imposing mirror of water and the sacred Mebon temple island, prove to us from our first steps the collective viewpoint and theatrical taste of the builders of Banteay Chhmar.

The central temple is entirely encircled by a rectangular moat 65 meters wide (213 feet) with a depth of 3.6 meters (11.8 feet). One crosses to the main temple by four axial causeways, each originally edged by balustrades consisting of two rows of stone giants and supporting a Naga parapet, an ornamental motif seen at the gates of Angkor Thom, as well as at Angkor’s Baray and its Mebon temple.

View of the south side of the moat surrounding Banteay Chhmar, with the causeway linking it to the mainland.
Before entering the boundaries of this huge temple, let us note that on its north-south and east-west axes are found seven satellite temples, with an eighth located near the southeast angle of the moat (see diagram above). These buildings, of secondary artistic interest because of the similarities among them, each include one or two surrounding walls, a tower with four faces forming a central shrine and a system of moats and basins, lined with stone banks like the Baray. On the 8 or 9 square kilometers covered by the Banteay Chhmar group, more than a sixth of the area was therefore excavated — sometimes up to depth of 6 meters (20 feet) — with the intention of creating reservoirs of water and, as a result, very clear liquid surfaces to complement the architecture.

South exterior gallery of Banteay Chhmar's main temple. These galleries originally surrounded the temple covering nearly 700 meters of bas relief carvings of Khmer life.
Here, in a few words, are the main guiding principles of the plan: all galleries and colonnaded walkways join together or cross in right angles. The majority of these junctions feature a tower shrine, tapering towards the center with four faces in some areas of the temple (the same type of the towers seen in The Bayon of Angkor Thom). As they approached the central shrine, the towers increases. From 6-7 meters (20-23 feet) tall at the periphery, they attained a height of about 20 meters (66 feet) in the center. In total, there were 56 towers.

One of the courtyards of Banteay Chhmar leading to the central labyrinth.
The two main axes of this group are clear at first glance. The point where they intersect is occupied by the central shrine, the Holy of Holies. Thus the architectural center and ritual center of the temple coincide. By passing through the temple from East to West, one encounters six distinct sections, each closely dependent on the others:

1 – A rectangular gallery enclosing the entire temple measuring 250 meters by 190 meters (820 x 623 feet). This consists of an arch roof built against a wall supported by pillars on the outside edge. The outside face of the covered wall features bas-relief carvings that, in their entirety, cover an area of 1,090 square meters (11,733 sq. feet). The interpretation of the historical and legendary stages pictured on the bas-reliefs is still impossible. Each side of the gallery is penetrated at the central axis by a monumental door with triple entry passages and three towers. One reaches these entry gates by crossing a Terrace of Honor, lined with Naga parapets and staircases flanked by lions (only the eastern terrace is shown on our plan);

2 - A rectangular gallery surrounding a courtyard, which is occupied by a crucial gallery. This beautifully proportioned building was, originally, independent of the temple itself. To the north and south it is associated with two water basins with steps and two additional buildings set upon 4 meter (13 feet) tall foundations. These are flanked by 1.7 meter (5.6 feet) tall standing monsters that act as caryatids;

3 - The main section of the temple. This “checkerboard” of galleries divides itself into three complexes that connect, one to another, from east to west, as three complete temples joined end to end. Each includes, in effect, a central tower sanctuary preceded by an entry pavilion, with towers and ceremonial gates set to the north and south. These sections are simultaneously united and independent;

As one advances west, the composition tightens; the towers and entry pavilions multiply as one reaches the principal sanctuary. Then one emerges in an open air courtyard that is mostly occupied by a group of three isolated towers. This transition achieves a remarkable contrast. These provisions obviously correspond to religious constraints imposed on the architects by the multiple divinities who were worshipped in this immense temple. The problem to be solved was therefore made much more difficult.

Also, from an architectural viewpoint, it is of great interest to follow diversity of the plan, despite the repetition of similar motifs that can be deduced within. This long rectangular area of 40 meters (131 feet) wide by 170 meters (558 feet) from east to west is divided by rows of towers — sometimes three, sometimes five, sometimes on elevated foundations and sometimes with four divine faces — joined end to end without a gap, leaving no doubt in one’s mind that no section of the system of axes that govern the design was neglected. NOTE: It is this aspect that, not escaping the eye of Cambodians, inspired the modern name of the temple: Banteay Chhmar which means “narrow citadel”;

4 and 5 - To the north and south, the temple’s main section is flanked by two similar groups that are symmetrical and independent of the main structure. Both of these two shrines are topped with face towers and encircled with a rectangular gallery;

6 - Finally, completing in the west, we find the same composition style as both precedents. But, here, the central shrine is built on a foundation 3.7 meters (12 feet) high, decorated with moldings and serrated designs, flanked by staircases on all four sides. This design is different from the rest of the temple which is strictly level, the highest foundation previously encountered not exceeding 80 centimeters (31.5 inches) above the base.

Interior structure of Banteay Chhmar's crucial gallery: winged women with arms raised holding lotus blossoms.
Banteay Chhmar’s plan differs considerably from most of the great Khmer temples now known. Usually, these plans are concentric and consequently develop with similar dimensions based on the four cardinal points. Generally, secondary buildings, or those added at later times, were more haphazard and without symmetry. Here, as we’ve just seen, the group is radically opposite these other designs.

The plan is eccentric, developing from east to west, in a series of successive structures that never break their rigorous symmetry. The surrounding gallery enclosure, like that of traditional temples (but here it is independent), is penetrated, but the architect neglects the north, south and west entries of the central group, even masking them with independent sanctuaries.

The bird-god Garuda combined with the multi-headed serpent Naga decorates the balastrades of the terraces.
If the builders first undertook a rigorous staking of their construction sites, the disparity among almost all the Khmer monuments is that the lines of the architect are often remarkable, but the construction itself is often mediocre; this also exists at Banteay Chhmar, one of the largest of all their temples.

One of the innumerable devata nymphs who appear on the walls of Banteay Chhmar.
Given the technique of shaping the stones and stacking them one on top of the other, it was necessary to create axes 7 meters apart for three lines of towers, so there were surprises. After all was said and done, this vast monument, perfectly composed in every section by the architects, was built “approximately” and as well as the circumstances allowed.

Despite these mistakes that the workforce was powerless to change, they compensated with true will, true intelligence and a boldness that made it certain that they could accomplish building the main temple of Banteay Chhmar. Its horizontal development on a single axis precluded it from creating a massive impression as a group, but as the Khmers experienced it, proceeding through each impressive section, the small defects that we have just noted disappeared.

One of the towers with four divine faces at Banteay Chhmar.
The 5-6,000 measurements we took of these ruins have us allowed us to calculate the cubic volume and carved surfaces. We met too many unknown factors in our research to calculate the total time spent in the construction and decoration of Banteay Chhmar. However, we were able to determine the minimum time required for such a project by determining the maximum number of workers the site could accommodate. The final answer was about sixty years, provided that there was no interruption of work.

Goddess from the Buddhist pantheon at Banteay Chhmar.
On the other hand, inscriptions discovered from of the reign of Jayavarman VII (1180-1201 AD) indicate that the large temple was already finished at that time. One can therefore postulate that the ancient city of Banteay Chhmar was a prosperous religious center during the twelfth century, and that construction of the central complex of this temple was begun by about 1140 AD at the latest. As for the religion practiced there, the most anyone can say is that there was Vishnuism at the beginning. The temple later appears to have been affected by Buddhism, at least in its most recent sections. In any case, its iconography belongs to these two religions.

Banteay Chhmar lintel.

George Groslier and his daughter Nicole at the gate of their Phnom Penh home - 1923.
George Groslier (1887-1945) lived, breathed and loved the art and culture of his country of birth: Cambodia.

His work as an historian, curator, educator and author was the motivating force behind much of the revival of interest in traditional Cambodian arts and crafts. He produced a large body of research and, in 1926, began adding fictional works to his oeuvre, depicting Europeans in the context of the exotic Far East.

For a complete list of George Groslier’s work please visit

Special thanks to Nicole Groslier for her kind permission to use her original photos and for allowing Kent Davis to translate this draft of her father’s article, which later appeared in L’Illustration magazine, April 3, 1937.

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The first photo is of George Groslier who was born in Cambodia to French parents. Both his father and he were instrumental in the investigation and preservation of the ancient temples in Cambodia.


Banteay Chhmar : Citadel of the Cat

I am always on the lookout for more information on the wonderful temples of Cambodia. This one was built by Jayavarman VII.
My blog is not only here to tell more about my book but to also share information about the history of the country and it's kings.
Banteay Chhmar – Working to Save Another Angkor Wat

3D Architectural reconstruction of Banteay Chhmar by Dr. Pheakday Nguonphan.
Article by Kent Davis –

PARIS, FRANCE – The majestic temple of Angkor Wat is an icon of the medieval Khmer civilization that once flourished in Southeast Asia. But situated 110 kilometers northwest of the well-known Angkor group, experts believe another fabulous monument also holds vital clues to the mysteries of the Khmer Empire. At the behest of the Global Heritage Fund, experts recently gathered at the Guimet Museum to insure the future of the temple of Banteay Chhmar.

One of eight Lokesvara images originally carved on the temple walls of Banteay Chhmar. Four of these were looted in 1992 (see missing wall on right).
Banteay Chhmar, also called the Citadel of the Cats, lies hidden in a remote corner of Cambodia, shielded by the Dangrek Mountains to the north. Its isolated location is exactly why archaeologists and conservators are so enthusiastic about the site. In the 800 years since it was built, Banteay Chhmar has slowly collapsed, falling victim to ancient trees, invasive jungle foliage and modern looters.

But archaeologists know that the structural collapse has preserved many artistic elements, much like a time capsule. Banteay Chhmar temple remains the least-damaged repository of art commissioned by the Khmer Empire’s last great king, Jayavarman VII, who converted Cambodia to Buddhism, which remains the national religion today.

GHF conservation of the face towers at Banteay Chhmar.
Conserving Cambodian History at Banteay Chhmar
In 2007, the Global Heritage Fund (GHF) recognized the critical need for conservation, planning and protection at Banteay Chhmar. Working with Cambodian officials, GHF initiated a conservation project at the temple. British architect John Sanday, GHF’s Director for Asia and Pacific Programs, moved to the site to personally direct the work, and to oversee training for professional team of Khmer conservators to restore their nation’s priceless heritage.

GHF’s Banteay Chhmar project is the first temple restoration project led by a Khmer team.
The Cambodian government and conservation groups actively support GHF’s conservation efforts. Governor Oung Oeung of Banteay Meanchey Province and Director General Ok Sophon, Department of Heritage, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MoCFA) recently hosted the second international Banteay Chhmar conference at the site, attracting nearly 200 participants.

In addition to GHF’s work stabilizing and preserving the temple structure, two other groups are working with local residents to promote social programs; Cambodia Community Based Eco-Tourism Network promotes eco-tourism, while Heritage Watch International implements heritage education programs for visitors, guides and local residents.

In addition to the main temple, the vast Banteay Chhmar site includes a large baray (ceremonial reservoir), canals and many smaller temples.
GHF Conference at Musée Guimet Rallies Support for Heritage Conservation

A Royal Cambodian Ballet dancer.
On November 30th, 2010 the Global Heritage Fund organized a special meeting at the Guimet Museum, which preserves one of the most extraordinary collections of Khmer art in the world.

Following a traditional dance blessing by member of the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, a group of distinguished speakers discussed the importance of saving global heritage for future generations. Presenters included Cambodian Ambassador to France, H.E. Mr. Uch Kiman; the U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO David Killion, and Jacques Gies, President of the Musée Guimet, who just had returned from Cambodia.

John Sanday presented his ongoing work restoring Banteay Chhmar with professional team of Khmer conservators. Banteay Chhnar is the first temple conservation project in Cambodia to be led by a Khmer team of professionals training their fellow Khmers. Mr. Sanday also described how local communities are essential to the site’s protection and development to ensure long-term success for the project.

Dr. Peter Sharrock from University of London SOAS presented intriguing research on the unique Khmer art and iconography of Banteay Chhmar that the GHF project is now revealing to the world. (more info below)

Banteay Chhmar is enclosed by a one kilometer carved bas-relief wall depicting the entire history of the Khmer kingdom.
UNESCO Recognition – The Next Key Step for Banteay Chhmar
In 1992, UNESCO has recognized the 400 sq. km. Angkor area as one of the world’s most important archaeological sites.

The vast site of Banteay Chhmar is now among Cambodia’s top-listed sites for nomination to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. This little-know and rarely visited area contains one of the great architectural masterpieces of Southeast Asia, and its main temple is one of the culminating monuments of the Khmer Kingdom’s epic Angkorian Period.

Suffering from 800 years of neglect, the towers, chambers and intricate bas relief carvings of the temple have slowly collapsed to the encroaching jungle, as well as suffering from aggressive looters. Banteay Chhmar is in critical need of a master plan, pro-active conservation and increased protection, which is the exact mission government and non-profit agencies now pursue.

Early Banteay Chhmar temple plan by George Groslier.
Exploring the History and Mystery of Banteay Chhmar

Always remote, Banteay Chhmar has attracted explorers for more than a century. Etienne Aymonier first visited the site around 1883 followed by Lunet de Lajonquière around 1903. According to French archaeologist George Groslier,

“both noted that of all the Khmer monuments that they had explored Banteay Chhmar was the most ruined, the largest, the most chaotic…and the most indecipherable.”

On January 9, 1914, Groslier returned to the site to make a detailed survey, where he wrote:

“It took me ten days of uninterrupted work, from dawn to dusk, to survey Banteay Chhmar. No other temple in Cambodia is so vast or lies in such ruin…nowhere else have I felt such deep emotion studying the stones on site and re-erecting them one by one on paper.”

Groslier continued documenting the site, with the first major article for the public appearing in French in 1937 (click for George Groslier’s Banteay Chhmar article in English).

Interior structure of Banteay Chhmar’s crucial gallery: winged women with arms raised holding lotus blossoms. Photo George Groslier.
Professor Sharrock of SOAS now notes that the consecration of Banteay Chhmar dates to 1216 CE. Sharrock, a specialist in the religious transformation under the reign of the last great Khmer King Jayavarman VII, sees this unrestored temple as perhaps the greatest and least-damaged repository of Buddhist iconography from that era. His hope is that it will tell scholars even more about the Khmer than the state temple of the Bayon, which is in the Angkor group.

According Sharrock, images at Banteay Chhmar contain strong evidence for a cult of the supreme tantric Buddhist deity Hevajra, with significant participation by female practitioners, women known as Yoginis. According to Sharrock’s research, Hevajra cults were widespread at the time, reaching their peak in what is now China in 1260 CE with the Chinese emperor Kublai Khan’s consecration to Hevajra. Jayavarman VII’s devotion to Hevajra was therefore not unusual, but it does reveal the extent that this new religion influenced Southeast Asian beliefs.

Meanwhile, the iconography in the central sanctuary of Banteay Chhmar suggests that Vajrasattva and Herukas may have been at the core of this royal tantric cult. A frieze on one of the temple’s characteristic face towers may portraying the whole body of the crowned 4-faced deity sitting in the face-towers themselves.

Architectural reconstruction of Banteay Chhmar by architect Olivier Cunin, funded by the Robert Kiln Charitable Trust (UK) via GHF.
Restoring an Architectural Wonder

GHF has also employed the talents of French architect Dr. Olivier Cunin in creating 3-D archaeological reconstructions of the Banteay Chhmar complex. Cunin collaborated with Japanese photographer Baku Saito in 2005 to issue “The Face Towers of Banteay Chmar”, documenting this extraordinary temple.

The Banteay Chhmar site is now open to visitors. Interested travelers can also support the non-profit Global Heritage Fund, Cambodia Community Based Eco-Tourism Network, and Heritage Watch International with tax deductible contributions.

Article – Banteay Chhmar – Ancient Khmer City in Cambodia (1933 article)