A false door on one of the Preah Ko towers, Cambodia. Writing is chiseled into the tower doorways, and some of it appears to have been unfinished (photo 3).
Erected by Indravarman I in the 9th century, Preah Ko was dedicated to his deified ancestors: the front towers relate to male gods or ancestors, and the rear towers, female goddesses or ancestors. These towers of Preah Ko (‘Sacred Ox’) display three nandis (sacred oxen), and lions, which guard the steps leading up to the temple.
Each tower has one real, and three false doors. These false doors are exceptionally decorated in carving; the columns which frame the doors are “incontestably the most beautiful of Khmer art” (Rooney 1994). These doors also contain elaborate inscriptions, which are written in the ancient Hindu language of Sanskrit. The inscriptions of each tower correspond to the subject they’re devoted to.
Recommended reading: Michael Vickery’s publication The Khmer Inscriptions of Roluos (Preah Ko and Lolei): Documents from a Transitional Period in Cambodian History, which translates the inscriptions discussed above, as well as others from the period, and can be read for free here.
Photos courtesy of & taken by Buzz Hoffman.