The Reign of Suryavarman II Lives
As one of the seven wonders of the world, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, is the largest temple to ever be built on the face of the earth. Although many, including the Smithsonian Network Institution (SNI), deem Angkor Wat as, “a symbol of one of the greatest empires in the history of Southeast Asia”, it is perhaps highly noted as a “wonder”, because for centuries, “the sacred structure remained lost within the tropical forests of Cambodia, along with the history of the young king who built the temple”, notes SNI. The story behind this king supports the idea that, there will never be a time in the world, nor has there ever been, when people of bravery, nobility, and strength of mind were not needed. In many ways, we enjoy the fruits of their labor, and too often, we overlook the value that history has to offer about ancient heroic figures such as this king Suryavarman II, and vice versa. Traditionally, the history of Suryavarman, his life, and Angkor as we know it from inscriptions and the existing temples, begin in the ninth century. According to the book Ancient Angkor, by Michael Freeman and Claude Jacques, “the Angkor region has been settled since neolithic times, as is known from stone tools and ceramics found there, and from the identification of circular habitation sites from aerial photographs.”(8). Suryavarman ruled Angkor from 1112 AD to about 1150 AD, and has been recognized as a powerful figure, not only in the history of Angkor, but also in the making of world history itself. His contributions to the most significant developments in the Post Classical Era have very much to do with the world we live in today. The focus of this paper is on the exact dynamics that acclaim Suryavarman II as the source of the prosperity and growth Cambodia has been granted thus far, as well as the impacts made in in shaping today’s world as a whole. This significant notion will be supported by distinguishing his achievements into different dimensions of a superstructure. Namely, his military, economic, religious, social, and political achievements, and other literary medium that praise him because of his loyalty, achievements, and ambition. Also, it is important to note, that most of the res earch that has been done draws primarily on well-dated archaeological sites which, “have been dated using available radiocarbon dates, or absolute dates from Khmer of Sanskrit inscriptions.” (Glover & Bellwood 91). The analysis on the reign of Suryavarman II in the eastern world, and the time period he was in, will conclusively show and connect to the widespread shift toward an international framework.
Khmer inscriptions tell us that the imperial kingdom was founded in 802 AD, by conquerors and kings like Suryavarman, through the unification of the Cambodian countryside and pacification. Politically, Suryavarman’s greatest contribution to Cambodia were his establishments in building a foundation for the power that would dominate an enormous area for several hundred years. Firstly, he “defeated rival claimants to the throne and established sole rule over Cambodia by 1113, reuniting the country after more than 50 years of unrest. Warlike and ambitious, he expanded the limits of Cambodia” (Britannica). Another perspective of politics and Suryavarman is introduced, is through Hong’s article on Hinduism, power, and prestige. He basically argues that “Suryavarman used religious iconography to support and enhance his political position” (Hong 1). He explains how, because architecture has been associated with kingship for so long, figures such as pharaohs and Caesars, “use architecture as a successful means of propaganda to show their political power and to promote their ideologies. It is of little surprise that King Suryavarman II also created huge monuments to show his power and prestige.” (Hong 1). Exactly how Suryavarman used his political position to unify the people and the areas in the Khmer empire remains a...
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