Sacred Sites in Southeast Asia | Prasat Boeung Khna

Prasat Boeung Khna
Cambodia, Koh Ker, Angkor period (ruler: Jayavarman IV), 10th century, Sandstone, laterite, and brick

Prasat Boeung Khna is not only a temple, it is also the main quarry and sculpting workshop for Koh Ker. Relief carvings and freestanding statues can still be found here in varying levels of completion. Seeing these partial works reveals that Khmer sculptors at Koh Ker worked from freshly hewn blocks of stone or carved into stone surfaces while they were still connected to the living rock. Unlike Angkor, where temples were built from sandstone that was transported from Phnom Kulen, at Koh Ker the sandstone was sourced from within the temple area. A large laterite quarry also lay nearby.

Ruined stone temple surrounded by quarry area

As evidenced by this and other quarry areas, the Khmer quarrying and sculpting process was to create roughly circular stone slabs from the living rock and use these for work pedestals. The artists placed the extracted stones on the pedestals in order to further cut them down into usable blocks or to carve full sculptures.

Stone sculpture of a lion's jaws

Propped on one such pedestal, a guardian lion begins to smile out at us from a now-broken block of sandstone

Pond in the jungle

Pools of water collect in areas where larger portions of stone were excavated. 

Ruined stone temple pedestal with forest behind

It is possible this temple served the ritual needs of the sculptors, or that deity sculptures were blessed here before being carried to their final destination.