THe Lone Apsara

THe Lone Apsara

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)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The title for my second book

Well I have been writing the title two different ways but finally found what has confirmed what I want for the title. No spoilers yet but I got help from a 714 year old book and a Chinese diplomat who visited and stayed at Angkor Wat or as it was called back then, Yasodharapura. His name was Zhou Daguan and his book that was finally translated into English in 2007 after all those hundreds of years was one of the first books I bought to start this journey.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Knowing what you write... right?

“We know there are known knowns: there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns: that is to say we know there are things we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” —Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Department briefing, Fe. 12, 2002

I just saw this quota and though I can't stand the person who said it it brings out a very important topic to me and what has always been dear to my heart. When writing, be accurate!
I once read a piece written by a girl who was visiting some friends in Phnom Penh. She was writing on the Coupe of 1997. Now granted the magazine was just a small mothering magazine with a small readership. But it was a magazine and while reading it I got to the point where I was holding my head say "Where in the world did she get her information?" or "How could she say such a thing?" I wrote to the editor who I knew and brought up each point. About the only thing the girl got right was where she was staying while in the country... My friend the editor told me to write to her directly and tell her what I felt about her article.
I wrote to this girl and told her I had also lived through the coupe that she had called a civil war... I asked her if she knew the definition of either? I then asked her about all her other gross mistakes? Her reply was simple. She didn't really care and hadn't checked her facts and blah,blah...
To say I was floored by what she said to me and her article and her lack of caring... She was writing and reaching people who didn't know and some may not care but when a person who reads something knows the facts and sees them distorted it makes you really want to scream. Another case came up about 1/2 a year ago. There was an article in the BDN, Bangor Daily News and it was about this one victim of a dog attack. The victim had been attacked by a pit bull... no maybe a Bull Mastiff or was it a Pug...? The thing was they had some animal doctor giving facts about dog attacks and certain breeds and though I have never owned a Pitbull or a Pug I have owned a Bull Mastiff. She gave all these suppose facts... SUPPOSE FACTS. Well I went to my friends at Dog Fancy Magazine and complained and asked for help. This person who wrote the article never checked anything she just wrote, probably to meet a deadline BUT even with suppose facts from the experts you would think they would check?? NO they don't so I go the information I needed and double checked it... and wrote back to this woman and then then she gave me the address of the dog doctor... what a waste of time. Neither cared that they were putting out gross facts about dog breeds. One of the things that really cracked me up was that when I told both these women that they had both said a Pit bull could reach weights of up to 200 lbs... that was like a light bulb going off . She said also this woman could have been attacked by a Pug... first they didn't even have a clue as to what attacked the woman, then to give gross facts about dogs like a 200LB Pit Bull... They finally did find the dog that attacked the woman, it was a mix. BUT what I am trying to get across is it's very important to know what you write and to get your facts straight.
I write fiction but that still doesn't excuse me from not getting the facts correct. I love to research and I am always double checking what I wrote and though this little piece has nothing to do with my books it does have about writing in general so now that I have had my little venting time I will get back to work.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The saving of a Queen

Jayavarman walked through the crowd who gathered for the up and coming wedding of the Prince of the Cham. People partied, bells rang. Incense floated to the heavens as did the chants of the monks. Prayers for a fruitful marriage.
Jayavarman walked with a purpose, only one in mind. To get back what belong to him, his wife, his friend, his queen. The woman who had been with him down through the ages and a lowly Prince of the Cham dared to take her... He would not live out the day, that Jayavarman knew for sure.
He stopped an obscure man, no one noticed amongst the well wishers. The Prince must be very sure of himself. Well he hadn't changed much since their last meeting a year ago. Only more cocky.
Jayavarman took in the lay of the palace. He had told Sean he would handle this on his own... he knew though his men would never leave him to himself. As he boldly walked up the steps of the palace he felt a presence behind himself. Turning first to his right,and then to his left he saw what he he had grown accustom to seeing, his men... his men who would follow him to the gates of hell and back.
"I thought I told you this was a private battle Sean..." Smiling at his General.
"Sean kept step with his future King. "And I told you I never listen to orders when they make no sense. We are here to help you get our future queen back and kill that sneaking rat of a prince once and for all..."
Jayavarman smiled as they climbed the final stairs and stood before the doors of the temple. Inside the gongs sounded, the beginning of the ceremony would start.
Jayavarman put his hand on Sean's shoulder, his other hand clasped his dagger. "This could be dangerous you know... we may not all make it..."
Sean smiled at his leader. "You forgot all of us here will later be the ones who save the crown prince... so yes, we will all make it. Also I know something you don't know." He smiled a smile that Jayavarman had known since they were young boys. "And what is that?"
"Another worm hole." Now let's get Indradevi back, get ahold of the prince, kill him and we will get back without anyone even knowing what hit them."
Jayavarman smiled. As his hand got ready to push the door of the temple open a monk came up to them. His look of puzzlement spread as all the men pushed past him. They walked in and all eyes turned on them.
Jayavarman saw only one and that was Indradevi's eyes . She looked up, tears spilling from her eyes then a smile broke over her face.
Jayavarman said just above a whisper. "Let's get our queen back..."

Monday, April 4, 2011


Well just to say my next book is over the hump of the beginning and wrote 5 pages today. I have twenty pages done on this new book so far. The characters are coming along nicely again. They are getting to know one another again after the ending of the first book. I did take a few pages out a couple of days ago after reading half of the Ramayana. Things are flowing now.
The photos included are of the hospital in Bangkok, Bumrungrad Hospital, I use in my books. The same hospital I lived at for about three months when waiting for the birth of my youngest son and where he went back to to have a life saving surgery. I want to show as much to give everyone a feel for my world that I am creating.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Photos and a new book by John McDermott

The gate at Angkor Thom, one of my favorite photos done by John McDermott. I have known of his work for a very long time. MaryKate brought back a card for me of one of his photos.

These peaceful faces are at Angkor Thom at the Bayon which is the center of of Angkor Thom, which was built by Jayavarman VII. Some say the faces are of him, not all are identical, some say they are of a Buddhist divinity.

Elegy: Reflections on Angkor Exhibit Opens in USA
Beverly Hills — For more than a decade, American photographer John McDermott has devoted himself to capturing the soul of the ancient Khmer capital of Angkor on film. His new exhibit features a collection of monochromatic photos from his new book Elegy: Reflections on Angkor, a study of the stone temple ruins in Cambodia.

Elegy: Reflections on Angkor by John McDermott
McDermott first visited Cambodia in the mid-1990s, when the country was still recovering from decades of civil war and genocide. When he returned again in 2000, the photographer committed himself to recording the ancient ruins of the mysterious Khmer civilization that were still untouched and unknown to most of the world.

Faces on The Bayon by John McDermott
The Khmer Empire flourished from the 9th to the 14th centuries, but its magnificent capital of Angkor — with temples covering almost 250 square miles — was virtually abandoned to the jungle upon its collapse.

In the late 19th century, French explorer Henri Mouhot brought the civilization to the attention of the West for the first time. Since then, the Angkor archaeological complex has welcomed an increasing number of international tourists and researchers. Some two million visitors are expected this year.

McDermott’s vision was to create a comprehensive portrait of the temples in a timeless style mirroring the mystery of a place that has almost no written history. As the book and exhibit reveal, McDermott’s images were made before this major influx of tourism changed the character of these remote jungle ruins. Sadly, many of the views McDermott captured in his photographs are no longer visible due to changes in infrastructure and restoration efforts.

Hailed as “the Ansel Adams of Angkor” by The New York Times, McDermott’s body of work reveals “a moody, surrealistic world redolent with the mysterious spirit one encounters when visiting.”

The exhibit at the Sundaram Tagore gallery includes sepia-toned silver gelatin prints and archival pigment ink prints. To create his vision, McDermott uses specialized black and white film and strong darkroom interpretation.

His book, Elegy: Reflections on Angkor, was released in 2010. His photographs are on display as part of the permanent collection in the National Museum in Phnom Penh, and are held in private collections around the world.

Oprah Winfrey choses “Elegy: Reflections on Angkor” as a Book to Watch
Oprah has chosen “Elegy: Reflections on Angkor” as one of “18 Books to Watch” in April 2011.

American-born photographer John McDermott has been dubbed the “Ansel Adams of Angkor”—and you can see why: His moody photos of Cambodian temples are full of light and shadow as befits both ancient peoples and current circumstance.

— Sara Nelson

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Updating old post

I added a photo finally of a dance troupe that was up at Preah Vihear last August, 2010. Also a thank you to my son Arun on my book cover design.

Gods and Goddesses

This second book in the KOA sereis is slower going. I have been doing a lot of research, talking with experts, like Kent Davis who heads up research on the Apsaras at Angkor Wat and also my son Arun in India who is very patient in answering my questions.
Yesterday we had an April fools gift...a snow storm so I stayed home and after numerous hands of UNO and helping my other son with homework I took a brief catnap. That helped me to have a clearer head to do some writing. I played around with the next few pages that I know I will probably delete . It's kinda like a knitting project that you love doing but it's not turning out like you want so you rip out... better to do in the beginning stages then mid way. By then you have too much invested. I am still in the beginning stages of book two so I have room to delete and rip...
The second book starts up right where the first one stopped. I already see where the book is going just how to get it on that path. Also while writing yesterday I had a certain song on my ipod that I let play over and over again. Sometimes songs help. My books always have song or sound tracks. Yesterday I also had my ipod on to drown out my son's XBOX 360 activity.
So as I get updates from my publisher and I have more contact with my editor and or project coordinator I will post here.
So to get to the title of todays post... why Gods and Goddesses? Because I am going deep into the mythology of India and Cambodia for my character's sake. Cambodia and Angkor Wat were Hindu so I want to go deep and understand so I can bring fresh life to my characters. I hope I can.
So back to studying the Ramayana.