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Faces of Cambodia: Buddhism(s), Portraiture and Images of Kings

Wolfarth, Joanna Mary (2014) Faces of Cambodia: Buddhism(s), Portraiture and Images of Kings. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

In the late twelfth-century the face dominated the visual landscape of the Angkor Empire, appearing at the Mahāyānist Bayon temple in the form of monumental ‘face towers’, a distinctive architectural-cum-sculptural feature of the reign of Jayavarman VII, the first Buddhist king of Cambodia. Together with statues apparently sculpted as a physical likeness of the king, this artistic output probed the conceptual contours of the face and the scope of portraiture. Since the twelfth century the face, primarily in a four-faced configuration, has continued as a uniquely Cambodian trope, cited and revived in changing politico-cultural contexts. The monumental visages of Angkor have been the subject of a wealth of scholarship over the last century and a half, yet there has been a lack of consideration of the Cambodian faces as faces from a phenomenological perspective. Neither has there been a thorough interrogation of the precise mechanisms by which the faces ‘reappeared’ in twentieth-century Cambodia. Therefore, this thesis addresses questions of the face and portraiture within a multi-layered Buddhist-Brahmānic complex, in order to counter hegemonies which persist in art historical scholarship on the Bayon. This examination of the face is primarily formulated on three levels of interrogation: the face as portrait, the face as the locus of personhood or subjectivity, and historiographies associated with the face. Due to the subsequent, and indeed on-going, appropriation of the Bayon faces, the final chapters give critical emphasis to the face of the king in the contemporary visual landscape of Cambodia.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Cambodia, Buddhism, portraiture, Angkor, Bayon, faces, French Protectorate, colonial, postcolonial theory, photography
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Joanna Wolfarth
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2015 11:24
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2015 11:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8907

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