Jayavarman VII

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Jayavarman VII
King of the Khmer Empire
JayavarmanVII.jpg
Statue of Jayavarman VII, Guimet Museum
Reign 1181 – 1218
Predecessor Yasovarman II
Successor Indravarman II
Consort Indradevi
Spouse Jayarachadevi (Queen's Sister)
Full name
Jayavarthon
Father Dharanindravarman II
Mother Sri Jayarajacudamani
Born 1125
Angkor, Khmer Empire
Died 1218 (aged 92–93)
Yaśodharapura, Khmer Empire
Religion Mahayana Buddhism
prev. Hinduism

Jayavarman VII (Khmer: ជ័យវរ្ម័នទី៧, 1125–1218) was a king (reigned c.1181-1218) of the Khmer Empire in present day Siem Reap, Cambodia. He was the son of King Dharanindravarman II (r. 1150-1160) and Queen Sri Jayarajacudamani. He married Jayarajadevi and then, after her death, married her sister Indradevi. The two women are commonly thought to have been a great inspiration to him, particularly in his unusual devotion to Buddhism, as only one prior Khmer king was a Buddhist. Jayavarman VII is generally considered by historians the most powerful Khmer monarch of all time.[1]

Early years[edit]

Jayavarman probably spent his early years away from the Khmer capital. Jayavarman is Sanskrit for Victorious Warrior, with "Jaya" being Sanskrit for "Victorious" or "Successful" and "Varman" being the word for "Warrior" or an expert in martial arts.

Defeat of the Cham and coronation[edit]

In 1177 and again in 1178, the Cham invaded Cambodia.[2] In 1177, Champa King Jaya Indravarman IV launched a surprise attack on the Khmer capital by sailing a fleet up the Mekong River, across Lake Tonlé Sap, and then up the Siem Reap River, a tributary of the Tonle Sap. The invaders pillaged the Khmer capital of Yasodharapura and put king Tribhuvanadityavarman to death. Also in 1178, Jayavarman came to historical prominence by leading a Khmer army that ousted the invaders. At the time, he may already have been in his 60s. Returning to the capital, he found it in disorder. He put an end to the disputes between warring factions and in 1181 was crowned king himself.[3]:120-121

Early in his reign, he probably repelled another Cham attack and quelled a rebellion of the vassal Kingdom of Malyang (Battambang). He was greatly helped by the military skill of refugee Prince Sri Vidyanandana, who also played a part in the subsequent sacking and conquest of Champa (1190–1191). Javayarman expanded Khmer control of the Mekong Valley northward to Vientiane and to the south, down the Kra Isthmus.

Public works and monuments[edit]

Bronze replica of one of the twenty-three stone images King Jayavarman VII sent to different parts of his kingdom in 1191.[4] The Walters Art Museum.

Over the 30 some years of his reign, Jayavarman embarked on a grand program of construction that included both public works and monuments. As a Mahayana Buddhist, his declared aim was to alleviate the suffering of his people. One inscription tells us, "He suffered from the illnesses of his subjects more than from his own; the pain that affected men's bodies was for him a spiritual pain, and thus more piercing." This declaration must be read in light of the undeniable fact that the numerous monuments erected by must have required the labor of thousands of workers, and that Jayavarman's reign was marked by the centralization of the state and the herding of people into ever greater population centers.

Historians have identified many facets in Jayavarman's intensive building program. In one phase, he focussed on useful constructions, such as hospitals, rest houses along the roads, and reservoirs. Thereafter, he built a pair of temples in honor of his parents: Ta Prohm in honor of his mother and Preah Khan in honor of his father.[3]:125-129

Finally, he constructed his own "temple-mountain" at Bayon and developed the city of Angkor Thom around it.[3]:121 He also built Neak Pean ("Coiled Serpent"), one of the smallest but most beautiful temples in the Angkor complex, a fountain with four surrounding ponds set on an island in that artificial lake.[3]:124-125

Ta Prohm[edit]

In 1186, Jayavarman dedicated Ta Prohm ("Ancestor Brahma" or " Eye of Brahma") to his mother. An inscription indicates that this massive temple at one time had 80,000 people assigned to its upkeep, including 18 high priests and 615 female dancers.[3]:126

The first Lara Croft film was shot in Ta Prohm as well as a few scenes from the movie Troy.

Jayavavarman VII was a great and generous king of Cambodia. He built 102 hospitals to treat all of his citizens.[3]:127

Angkor Thom and Bayon[edit]

Angkor Thom ("Grand Angkor" or "Angkor of Dham(ma)") was a new city centre, called in its day Indrapattha. At the centre of the new city stands one of his most massive achievements—the temple now called the Bayon, a multi-faceted, multi-towered temple that mixes Buddhist and Hindu iconography. Its outer walls have startling bas reliefs not only of warfare but the everyday life of the Khmer army and its followers. These reliefs show camp followers on the move with animals and oxcarts, hunters, women cooking, female traders selling to Chinese merchants, and celebrations of common foot soldiers. The reliefs also depict a naval battle on the great lake, the Tonle Sap.[3]:123-124

Chronology[edit]

Shrine of Jayavarman VII

King Suryavarman (Sun Shield) II, builder of the great Angkor Wat, died in 1150. He was succeeded by Yashovarman II who was himself overthrown by Tribhuvanadityavarman (Protegee of the Sun of three worlds), assumed to be an usurper. In 1177, the Chams, led by Jaya Indravarman IV, invaded and Angkor was sacked.[3]:120[5]:78-79 Nonetheless, this date, not to mention the event itself, has been questioned by Michael Vickery, who doubts the reliability of the Chinese sources for this period.[6] In 1181 Jayavarman VII became king after leading the Khmer forces against the Chams.[3]:121 Jayavarman VII then exacted vengeance against Champa in 1190, for the earlier raid in 1177. In 2013 Champa finally became a Khmer province.[5]:78-80

Jayavarman died around 1219. He was succeeded by Indravarman II, and died by 1243. Indravarman was succeeded further by Jayavarman VIII, a Shivaite. He embarked on the destruction or defacement of Jayavarman VII's Buddhist works. The niches all along the top of the wall around the city contained images of the Buddha, and most of these were removed. This included the great statue of Buddha at Bayon. Buddha images in Angkor Thom, the Buddha images were trsnaformed into linga.[3]:121,133

Interpretation[edit]

The history of the Khmer empire cannot be read in the manner of European patterns of kingship, inheritance or nationhood. The sons of a Khmer king did not necessarily inherit their father's thrones; Jayavarman VII himself had many sons, such as Suryakumara and Virakumara (the suffix kumara usually is translated as "sun prince", one of the king's sons), and Srindrakumaraputra, the crown prince who died before his father, but only Indravarman II inherited the throne.[3]:125,128,132

Jayavarman VII remains a potent symbol of national pride for present day Cambodians. As a Buddhist king in a Buddhist country, he is regarded with great respect. He built and repaired many 'firehouses' across the Empire, which are thought of as places for travellers to rest and many buildings which are now called "hospitals" in translation. This has contributed to a legend of the Buddharaja, the King-Buddha, who exercised compassion in ruling. This view of Jayavarman and his reign is supported by some beautiful sculptures of him in meditation.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  • Jean Boiselier: Refléxions sur l'art du Jayavarman VII., BSEI (Paris), 27 (1952) 3: 261-273.
  • Georges Coedès: Un grand roi de Cambodge - Jayavarman VII., Phnom Penh 1935.
  • Georges Coedès: Les hôpitaux de Jayavarman VII., BEFEO (Paris), 40 (1940): 344-347.
  • Louis Finot: Lokésvara en Indochine, Paris: EFEO, 1925.
  • Paul Mus: Angkor at the Time of Jayavarman VII., Bulletin de Société des Études Indochinoises (Paris), 27 (1952) 3: 261-273.
  • Jan Myrdal/Gun Kessle: Angkor - An Essay on Art and Imperialism, New York 1970.
  • Philippe Stern: Les monuments du style de Bayon et Jayavarman VII., Paris 1965.

A fictionalised account of the life of Jayavarman VII forms the basis of one thread of Geoff Ryman's 2006 novel The King's Last Song.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "ការគ្រងរាជ្យរបស់ព្រះបាទជ័យវរ្ម័នទី៧ (ភាគ១៦)" (in Khmer). Radio Free Asia. 4 June 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  2. ^ David P. Chandler, A History of Cambodia (Boulder: Westview Press, 1992.)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Higham, C., 2001, The Civilization of Angkor, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 9781842125847
  4. ^ "Eight-armed Avalokiteshvara". The Walters Art Museum. 
  5. ^ a b Maspero, G., 2002, The Champa Kingdom, Bangkok: White Lotus Co., Ltd., ISBN 9747534991
  6. ^ "NUS: ARI > Publications > ARI Working Paper Series". Ari.nus.edu.sg. Retrieved 2012-03-17. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by:
Tribhuvanadityavarman
King of the Khmers
1181–1218
Succeeded by:
Indravarman II