TAASA Review Issues

September 2006

Vol: 15 Issue: 3
Angkor
Guest Editor: Gill Green

Cover Image
VISHNU ANANTASAYIN (Vishnu reclining on the serpent Ananta) from the West Mebon, Angkor, Cambodia, second half of the 11th century; bronze, 122 x 236 x 73 cm; collection National Museum of Cambodia, reproduced with permission. see article pp. 18-19.

Research into the West Mebon forms just one element of the greater Angkor project, a major multidisciplinary project of the University of Sydney in conjunction with international research partners. This issue of TAASA review focuses on Angkor, in conjunction with the international conference ‘Angkor: landscape, city and temple’ held at Sydney University in July 2006.

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Editorial

An estimated one million people annually are predicted to visit Angkor in coming years. There is a good side and a bad side to these visitor figures. The good side is that many overseas visitors as well as Cambodians themselves are drawn to the Angkor complex now that accessibility has been restored in the last decade or so. The bad side is that these monuments are being ‘loved to death’ by these huge numbers and even worse, that looting and trade in millenniumold sculptures and bas reliefs has continued unabated.

Behind the tourist scenes, national and international scholarly effort continues apace to document all aspects of Khmer culture before, in some senses, it is too late. The range of these investigations was the subject of the July 2006 international conference ‘Angkor: Landscape, City and Temple’ held at the University of Sydney and organised by GAP (Greater Angkor Project, and of TAASA’s oneday seminar ‘Angkor: Artefacts to Empire’ immediately following.

In this issue of the TAASA Review, Angkor experts have been invited to share their expertise. First and foremost, the contributions of two Cambodian researchers are to be applauded. Heng Sophady, a Cambodiatrained archaeologist, has worked tirelessly with generous German sponsors to bring to fruition the Memot Centre of Archaeology (MCA). Ea Darith reports on recent reseach into Khmer ceramics and the kilns in which they were fired. David Chandler, doyen of Cambodian history studies, examines the impact of Angkor symbolism on the Cambodians themselves. Roland Fletcher, leader of GAP and based at the University of Sydney, surveys the cooperative nature of the interaction of a number of overseas agencies which, together with GAP, work in very challenging physical conditions recording and exploring new data. Terressa Davis, project manager of Cambodia-based Heritage Watch, sets out in stark detail the issues and local circumstances which surround the looting of some of the very art treasures that visitors come to Cambodia to see. Marnie Feneley, a master’s student at the University of Sydney, has been accorded an unparalleled opportunity to examine and record the fragmented remains of the famed West Mebon bronze statue of Vishnu housed in the National Museum of Cambodia. John Miksic explains his ideas on the demise of the city of Angkor. And Angkorian fashion is treated to a 21st century approach using the latest computer-aided techniques by Tom Chandler, myself and Andrea Innocent.

The success of the TAASA symposium (see report, p.26) was the result of cooperation with the GAP team and Professor Roland Fletcher, who approached TAASA with a proposal nearly three years ago. TAASA’s Treasurer Ann Guild and Martin Polkinghorne (also a TAASA member and a Ph D candidate at the University of Sydney) are to be congratulated for putting together such a successful program and for liaising on organisational matters with the GAP team. Thank you to both for this great team work.

It is fitting that this issue be dedicated to matters Angkorian, not only because of the significance of the recent international conference but also as recognition of the very close attachment that many Australians have with Cambodia. Many have worked privately in non-governmental organisations and a variety of other initiatives to help restore some sense of normality in that country which over the last four decades has suffered significant damage politically, economically and socially.

Table of contents

3 EDITORIAL: ANGKOR – Gill Green, Guest Editor

4 ANGKOR AND THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY – Roland Fletcher

6 THE IMPACT OF ‘ANGKOR’ ON CAMBODIAN HISTORY – David Chandler

8 The CITY MISUNDERSTOOD: ORTHOGENETIC CITES IN SOUTHEAST ASIA – John N. Miksic

10 KHMER CERAMIC KILNS: SOME PRELIMINARY WORK – Ea Darith

12 THE MEMOT CENTRE FOR ARCHAEOLOGY – Heng Sophady

14 VIRTUAL FASHION, ANGKORIAN STYLE – Gill Green, Tom Chandler and Andrea Innocent

16 PLUNDERING THE PAST: THE LOOTING CRISIS IN CAMBODIA – Terressa Davis

18 THE WEST MEBON VISHNU – Marnie Feneley

20 EXHIBITION PREVIEW: WONDER WALL – Claire Roberts

22 COLLECTOR’S CHOICE: SPECIAL WORLDS – Milton Osborne

23 IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN: GREAT TRADITIONS, NEW BEGINNINGS – Robyn Maxwell, Melanie Eastburn, Hwei-Fen Cheah

24 WHAT’S ON IN AUSTRALIA: SEPTEMBER–NOVEMBER 2006 – Compiled by Tina Burge

26 TAASA REPORT ANGKOR: ARTEFACTS TO EMPIRE, 22 JULY 2006

27 AUSTRALIAN CENTRE FOR ASIAN ART AND ARCHAEOLOGY

28 TAASA MEMBERS’ DIARY SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER 2006

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