Monday, 9 January 2017

The Leper King

The Legend of the Leper King at Angkor Thom

I have always been fascinated by the legend of the Leper King as narrated in all textbooks. Now I want to investigate it:
- Why a Leper?
- Why a King?
- Who made the terrace and statue, when and why?
- History or fiction (legend)?
- How many readings are there of the murals from Room 28 (XXVIII) of the inner gallery of the second level of Bayon.

The Terrace of the Leper King is located in Angkor Thom, in a large gateway to the north of the Royal Terrace. There is a square mound with a trench-like inner structure
and walls carved with images of figures from the underworld (Yaksas and Yakshinis, both male and female, together with large nagas). At the top of the terrace an unusual sandstone statue was found, together with three smaller ones (Fig.1, Fig.2 and Fig.3) of which two have been decapitated by vandals.
The main statue represents a naked male figure (
Fig.4) with athletic torso and a stylised backside but no genitals – a clear choice to avoid the concept of sexuality. His face has a mustache with two fangs emerging from his lips, like in yaks. He is shown seated at ease with his right knee raised, carrying a mace on his right shoulder, similar to Yama on his Buffalo in the Heaven and Hells panel of Angkor Wat (Roveda 2002: 47). His left arm rests on his leg. Because of intense tropical weathering, there is corrosion along with patches of lichen, giving the impression that the figure has a skin disease and due to his location, being at the northern end of the Royal Terrace, he is assumed to be of royalty. Thus the Leper King was born and the statue became popularly known as The Leper King.

Through the literature, we find various references for a leper king. Aymonier refers to a legend already known at the end of the 9th century to suggest that one of the Angkor kings was a leper. Another source is Zhou Daguan, the Chinese emissary to Angkor at the end of the 13th century (1269 CE.), who wrote that there were many lepers scattered along the roads of Angkor, a disease that he attributes to climatic conditions. However, leprosy was not considered with disdain as in neighboring countries because ‘there was a king who had contracted it’ (Pelliot, 1951:23), probably referring to an historical personage that remained in the living memory of some Cambodians.

The iconography of the statue has puzzled the wisest scholars. Moura thought it was the god Kubera, Aymonier thought it was King Yashovarman (ruled 889-c.915), while Marchal thought it was Shiva ascetic. All doubts were clarified by Coedès (1928: 83-84) translating an inscription from the 14-15th century carved on the pedestal of the statue that reads:
‘His Majesty has made an offering on a small plate to His Majesty Dharmadhipati-adhiraja. Whoever will take this offering shall be handed-over the tortures [of hell], and could the powerful Buddhas of the future not make them free’.

This indicates the offering was made by a king to the Dharmaraja Yama, and in a foot note (page 85) it is interesting to read that the offering made to Dharmadhipati, meaning Yama, was the same made to the genies of the land (Neat Tha).

On the assumption that most of the great monuments of Angkor were mausoleums or funerary temples, Coedès concluded that the terrace must have been near a crematorium and that the statue representing Dharmaraja was at its proper place on this terrace. The term “Dharmadhipati adhiraja” is equivalent to assessor of Yama, God of Death or of Judgment.

In Khmer, the statue was named ‘stec gamlan’, or simply gamlan that sounds like the epithet of Yama ganlan (or gamlang). However, in the labyrinth of Khmer vocabulary gamlan could be interpreted also as ‘leprous’ (Choulean). This was taken by scholars as yet more evidence to conclude that the statue was really that of a Leper King.

Dharmaraja is also carved at Angkor Wat on the panel of Heavens and Hells (
Fig.15). He is holding a stick of command, carved with rows of kneeling personages with grimacing faces. They are the inhabitants of Yamabhupal, and multiple assessors of Yama the god of death. 

The funerary function of the terraces is undeniable, since cremations took place on it (Choulean 2005: 93), probably before the emplacement of Yama’s statue.

The inscription has a clear reference to Buddhism by citing the Buddhas of the future. On this basis, I speculate that the statue may have been made in the 14-16th century period when Theravada Buddhism acquired popularity and Buddhist cremation continued to be made on the terrace. In this period, Yama was absorbed into Buddhist mythology as the king superintended the karmic process of retribution upon death, assessing the sins of the people and condemning them to specific types of hell (see Nimi Jataka). 

By the mid-19th century, with the arrival of the French, the statue was de facto revered as a representation of the Leper King, associated to Yashovarman, the founder of Angkor City, while many other scholars identified it with Jayavarman VII. Meanwhile Chandler (1979) contested these attributions and preferred Indravarman II (c.1295-1307, a successor of Jayavarman VII), who was responsible for completing the works at Bayon, notably the royal terraces and the hospital chapels.

The statue and its history
The first illustration of the statue is that seen by Mouhot in 1873 and reproduced by an engraving (
Fig. 1) in 1904. It shows the outer layer of the statue’s skin covered by white dots of liken, as if it were dead skin flakes falling off the body, as in leprosy. We cannot be sure if this was the engravers imagination or a true representation.

Mouhot found the statue sheltered in a small hut of palm-leaves, as if it was a neak ta (ancestors spirit). Aymonier said (III 1904:124) that in a previous visit of 1873 he had noticed the statue of the sdach komlong holding a thin metal tube in his left hand, probably a stick of command. Aymonier also reported that Garnier was disillusioned by the sculptural softness of the nude rendering of the statue that he had observed during his explorations of 1869-75. Aymonier concluded mentioning an almost unreadable later inscription of the words ‘bra Anga brah pada’ convincing him that the statue was of a king.

Being of very poor artistic quality, Western scholars overlooked it and never used it as an example of Khmer art ingenuity, hence it doesnt appears in academic books on Khmer sculpture. However photographs of this statue on top of the so-called Terrace of the Leper King appeared in many books published in the middle-late 20th century, though without any technical or historical new information.

Stylistically it does not have much character of the Khmer sculpture of the 13th century so we cannot be sure if it is an original of the time or a later copy.

It appears that the statue is made of some sort of soft sandstone or cement. Hang (2004: 115) mentions that the statue was made of sandstone, but no petrological analysis was made on the original that is now at the National Museum. Many copies have been made of the original to follow local religious practices and needs. All the other 5-6 available copies are made of a cement mixed with fine sand. As vandals (or thieves) commonly decapitate heads, it could be possible that the original head may have been of stone and was replaced after vandalism with cement.

In 1970-75, it is reported that a U.S. diplomat saw the statue in Phnom Penh and commented it was made of concrete and decapitated (Hang 2004: 88). When I personally saw it for the first time in 1996, it was headless, making me wonder who would steal a cement head of a poor statue. It was restored when I saw it again in October 2002 but no restoration details are available. 

A close up scientific analysis is well overdue on this important sculpture. It would also be worthwhile verifying if the white flakes on the statue could be residual whitewash, a common practice for many Angkorean sculptures. 

We ignore what happened to the true original, while well documented is the story of the other surviving copies of the modern cement statues.

The Terrace
At Angkor Thom there is a long terraces in front of the Royal Palace domain, named the Elephants’ Terrace. Close to its northern section stands the Terrace of the leper King. They both have an internal trench-like structure carved with mythological figures. It is not clear if the galleries were purposely buried to be hidden from view or created by a process of progressive enlargement of the building requiring new external walls. The inner gallery of the Leper King Terrace is now visible, with rows of figures from the underworld such as Yaksa and Yakshini, Garudas, princesses with naga’s crowns, and rows of mythic and multi-armed giants. The powerful multi-headed naga is sculpted in the lowest register, being the king of the deepest of all the underworld kingdoms. All these mythological beings lived under Mount Meru (see Roveda 2013: Fig.174-177).

On top of the terrace is the statue of the ‘Leper King’, surrounded by
two other small decapitated sculptures carrying a pole on their shoulders (Fig.22); it was considered the typical site for cremation ceremonies, a sort of permanent ‘Val Men’, a pavilion erected for funeral ceremonies, supervised by Dharmaraja Yama, king of the dead. In my opinion, it may also have been the site or public punishments, amputation of limbs or decapitation.
The Terrace has a redented square plan with 3 visible lateral outer-walls of sandstone blocks carefully sculpted in high reliefs with figures on 7 registers (
Fig.21) of which the top has almost entirely disappeared leaving only the top central figure (Fig.22) of a god with many arms identified as Yama for its resemblance with the Yama carved in the scene of Heavens and Hell of Angkor Wat (Fig.6). On the north wall a large multi-headed naga is carved at the central bottom register.

The Legend of the Lepers King in detail.

The legend of the Leper King has become the heritage of Jayavarman VII, but it may have roots in India.
The original narrates that the King of Benares having been affected by leprosy, left the throne and retired in a forest to the north of the capital. He was cured in the shadow of a Kalan tree. He was cremated in that location.
The equivalent Khmer legend consists of a leper Khmer prince who left the throne to retire in a forest (Kulen) to the north of the capital (Angkor); Aymonier (1904: 488) concluded that the Khmer prince with leprosy could have been Yashovarman (raign.819-915 CE), thus a living man.

Leclère narrated the Cambodian version of a legend of a leper king under the name of Neang Sox-Kraaup (1983: 112) which tells the adventures of two lazy boys until they became men. At the very end of the narrative they reach a kingdom ruled by a leper king. Dressed as old bearded healers they were promised a lot of money if they could cure him. They said they could if their request was satisfied. They wanted a very small hut built in the middle of the river. On the roof of the hut a large vase full of hot water had to be suspended, in which they were going to pour a few drops of an infallible medicine. This would shower on the king and cure him. However, the king complained that he would be burned. The two brothers reassured him, mentioning that there was also cold water.

The following day, the king arrived accompanied by the two brothers disguised as healers. He went to the little hut and they entered together. The king placed himself under the shower while the two brothers went above to drop the balsam meant to cure him. When the leper king was well under the vase, they poured the shower of hot water all in one go, instantly killing the king. The brothers took off their disguise and presented themselves to the queen and with enchanting maneuvers managed to rule the city and eventually the kingdom.

A slightly different legend of the leper king is summarized by Porée and Maspero (1938: 73) without indication of the century when it took place and the name of the king.

A hypothesis was put forward by Groslier (1961:171) to explain Jayavarman VII absence from Angkor for many years, while he was living in retirement at Preah Khan of Kampong Sway (circa.1165-1180), as due to a serious illness, perhaps leprosy.
Previously, Jayavarman VII was in Champa and could not come on time at Angkor to save his father and stood away also when he could have taken his right of succession and stop a usurper. At first sight, it seems that he did not want to engage in the burden of Angkorean royalty. After being miraculously cured, the attitude of Jayavarman VII changed, continuing to be a powerful military figure and a stronger believer in Mahayana Buddhism.
He started believing himself to be the personification of the Buddha, so erected this statue in the central Bayon’s sanctuary. He also renovated his ambitious building program.
Groslier (1961: 185) was of the opinion that out of the panels of the interior gallery (including Room 28) only a few can attributed to the period of Jayavarman VII; the others are later, incomplete, now only a historical curiosity. However, 1973, B.P. Groslier believed the legend was successful in Cambodia because it had some historical basis with King Jayavarman VII, as evidenced by this legend being carved at Bayon (room 28). Groslier agreed with the hypothesis formulated by Goloubew and Coedès explaining the conversion of Jayavarman VII to Buddhism [for health reason] and, most of all, his concern for making hospital chapels (Groslier, 1973: 255) to cure his people.

Ashley Thompson (2004) presented an excellent description and detailed interpretation of the reliefs of the Leper King legend (2004: 102-108, with drawings) commenting that in her view, the Leper King is Brah Thon, the founder of Kampuchea, out of the Kôk Thlôk Island (Roveda 2013:39). After marrying the naga princess, daughter of the naga king who had forbidden his son-in-law Brah Thon to make a tower with four faces overlooking the royal city. The young Brah Thon disobeyed and when the naga king resurfaced from the underground, all his power was overcome by that of the four faces. He was forced to go to live in the central water well of Bayon, emerging at times to see his daughter and to try killing his son in law, Brah Thon. However, the latter killed him instead (patricide?); during the fight, the serpent’s venom spilled over the prince skin causing leprosy. However, he was taken into the care of some healers and miraculously brought back to normal life conditions. 

Thompson believes that the events are depicted on the reliefs. She connected the narrative reliefs of room 28 with the those carved in an adjoining, but external, wall showing a princess being liberated from a cave, symbolic of the curative force discovered by the king (Thompson 2004: 102).

Thompson concluded that the ‘Leper King’ low reliefs are a small sample of representations associated with Jayavarman VII and that combined with the ‘Leper King’ statue, the legend was associated with the reign of Jayavarman VII or shortly after. The legend, rather than suggesting the concern of the king for his people and his personal health [leprosy?], can be read as a metaphorical representation of a complex symbolism of kingship in general (Thompson 2004:105). Thompson suggested that the association of the statue with the Leper King is a “cultural memory or vestige of Jayavarman VII reign” (2004: 107); furthermore it highlights the concept of healing.

Contemporaneously to Thompson, Ang Choulean (2004: 377) added that the leper King became Brah Thon in the Kok Thlok myth of Cambodia (Roveda 2013:39), and that the epithet of Yama ‘ganlan (or gamlang) in Khmer labyrinthine vocabulary could be interpreted as ‘leprous’ and thus the inscription on the statue could refer to the “ Leper King”. 

Although I argued on the statue’s identity in another chapter, for the bas-reliefs I am going to re-read them thanks to the accurate drawing based on a full digital photographic scans of the reliefs executed by the JSA in 1994., (Figs LVIII-LXCI)

Versions of the statue
The statue of a Leper King, not Yama the real figure, were common and became a center of popular worship even if the Leper King is not a religious figure. He was worshiped by the Khmer as the representation of ‘the king’ and incarnation of today’s king, and royal family (Hang:2004:113).

Several statues exist in Cambodia:
1- Leper king, copy of Angkor Thom’s statue sent to the National Museum
2- Stec Ganlan at the National Museum of Phnom Penh
3- YayDeb in Siem Reap Town, venerated as ‘divine female ancestor’
4- Yay Deb of the National Museum garden
5- Stec Gamlan, Phnom Penh Riverfront
6- Stec Gamlan, Wat Unnnalom, Phnom Penh
7- Leper King, Siem reap Conservation office courtyard
8- Stec Gamlan (unfinished), Kok Thnot village, as part of local initiative by a local tourist agency.

All these copies were subject to the breaking and stealing of the heads, replaced by cement ones.
The worship of each of the above statues in various towns of Cambodia is seen to play a role in maintaining national political identity. The many copies of statues of Stec Gamlan represent the reestablishment of the cosmic order, the Dharma (Hang, 2004: 125).

Bayon’s the reliefs of room XXVIII (28) presumed related to the legend of the Leper King.

Another representation of the presumed Leper King is found at the Bayon. It was carved in the Inner Gallery rooms of the eastern side of the monument in what I call Room 28 (Fig.9 plan).  I reproduce below my description (Bayon 2007: 310-311) of the reliefs carved in two walls of the room 28, with some slight revisions.

Room XXVIII (28) - Eastern wall. On this wall, on the left part of the upper register, the king is shown fighting a snake (Fig12) in a courtyard filled with royal parasols. With his right hand he holds the snake by the tail while with his left foot he stamps on its neck. Next to the right (of the viewer), another royal figure (with different jewelry and crown) sits in a large palace on a slightly higher level than his courtiers. With his right hand he holds a dagger pointed towards the ground; his left is raised over a small bowing figure (Fig.14). At his right are small princesses.
On the underlying middle register are kneeling court members gesticulating in the direction of the king fighting the snake, while others sit with their arms on their chests. To the far right (of the viewer), men with javelin march towards the right (next panel’s scene). The lowest (third) register shows orderly seated soldiers holding javelins; to the extreme right of the register they are shown carrying wounded comrades before going to the attack (

Room XXVIII (28) - Southern facing wall. On the wall to the right, strange actions take place. On the upper register, courtiers and courtesans fill rooms of palaces with towers that are emerging from large trees. Some courtiers attend the central figure of a large royal personage that has both arms extended towards small crowned girls at his sides, as if he had his hands examined (Fig.13). Later (to the right of the observer),he is shown lying down on a bed in a palace, with an ascetic man standing at the right of the viewer (Fig.14) and the same small crowned figures to the left. On the middle register the same group of soldiers seen before harming people (civilians?) seem to be directed towards three hermitages inhabited by rishis but the relief is covered with lichens (leprosy!) and the interrelationship with the soldiers is not clear (Fig.15). On the bottom register, the usual group of soldiers seem to continue fighting in a forest, to the right of the viewer.

Room XXVIII (28) - Northern facing wall. One can assume that the northern facing wall is related to the previous events, accepting that the reading is from left to right .On the wall to the left, facing north, (Fig.16) a king is enthroned in his palace, flanked by a female figure (to the left of the viewer) and by another female figure with a low crown and a female figure (his spouses?) with a high crow to his right, plus attendants fanning him. The central and bigger figure has moustaches and wears a pointed crown (mukuta); he has one arm on his hip and the other relaxed close to stomach with the hand index-finger pointing towards the ground.
Above the palace are several palm trees over which apsaras fly.
The relief of the next scene shows, in the middle register, a terrace flanked by a balustrade terminating with the sculpture of a
naga’s head (naga balustrade )where, at the center, court girls dance to the sound of an orchestra with lutes and lyre(Fig.16 lower left), while other dancing girls and courtesans wait on the side. In the lower register, various palace’s rooms are occupied by men sitting with their arms on their chests. Several figures represented frontally.

Interpretation of the reliefs of Room 28
The French scholar Victor Goloubew discovered the reading of the carved reliefs of the inner gallery of the eastern side of the second floor of Bayon (my Room 28). Goloubew was passionate about the legend of the Leper King and published various ideas in 1922, 1930, 1935 in the conviction that the Leper King was a real person, king Jayavarman VII. In 1936, Groslier (Bayon 1973: 255), despite the scanty historical evidence, also assumed that the hero of the legend was Jayavarman VII. Together with Goloubew and Coedès, Groslier shared the hypothesis of the conversion of Jayavarman VII to Buddhism and his desire for building 102 hospital chapels, presumably due to his recovery from leprosy.
The attribution to Jayavarman VII, stems from Goloubew visit to Shri Lanka where he discovered a bronze statuette of Lokeshvara, related to the healing from leprosy of Jayavarman VII in that country. It was the first mentioning of Jayavarman VII as the true Leper king despite no references or allusions to be found in inscriptions on these events.
This gave rise to a landslide of assumptions. Knowing that until he was young Jyavarman VII was a warrior and powerful hero, it was consequential that his disappearance from the scene was due to leprosy towards the end of his life. In fact, late in his reign he changed religion and ordered the construction of 102 Hospital Chapels to cure his own people.
My interpretation is written in the conclusions.

Dating on the reliefs of Room 28
Most Authors mention, without evidence, that the reliefs were carved after the death of Jayavarman VII (around 2019) or when he changed religion from Mahayana to Hinayana (Theravada). Groslier (1961: 185) was of the opinion only a few carved panels of the interior gallery (including Room 28) were original of the time of Jayavarman
VII, relegating them to historical curiosities. Jacques hints that they may have been executed during the reign of Jayavarman VIII (a successor of Jayavarman VII). On the architectural ground they belong to the last phase of construction of the temple (4th phase of Cunin), the uncertainty persists and I am driven to assume that the story of the presumed ‘Leper King’ (Room 28) does not have any religious reference like most of the other reliefs of the inner gallery of the second level, that were carved later, sometime during the reign of Jayavarman VIII after a religious upheaval, or even as late as the 16th century (Roveda 2007: 27).

Personal view
In this paper, I have shown that the evidence for a real life Leper King is very tenuous: a poorly preserved ugly statue of Yama, not of a leper, and the theory that reliefs of Bayon Room 28 can explain perhaps the sickness evolution of a man (assumed to be Jayavarman VII with leprosy). That is all.

In room 28, we only see a large male royal figure hand-fighting a large snake followed by the representation of a royal male figure in a palace holding a dagger; then another royal figure, presumably a sick man taken care by ladies. Further on to the right follows the image of the same man reclining on a bed (dead or cured?) under a hierarchy of rishi. I have noticed that a hand fight in a Royal Palace of Angkor between the most powerful king and a large snake spitting leprous-venom is quite unlikely. Jumping from this data to the invention of the Leper King legend requires a lot of fantasy. 

I have shown that the literature is thin: Aymonier has a fleeting mention of a similar legend known from the 9th century while Zhou Daguan vaguely mentions leprosy, not the legend. I am of the opinion that the figure is not Jayavarman VII but a prince of lesser status, perhaps Indravarman II or Jayavarman VIII, both believed to have completed the Bayon.

In my opinion, the legend was re-invented and embellished by French scholars in late 19th century and revitalized in the 20th by the esoteric studies of modern researchers.

The idea may have been imported from India and applied to some local Cambodian figure (a king or a prince) presumed to be affected by leprosy. Fom the late 19th century the story evolved into the legend we know today, due to the wrong interpretation of the statue of the Leper King who in reality is Yama, and an ambitious wrong reading of Room 28. I do not rule out that the statue was made in the 15-16th centuries when Theravada Buddhism was expanding in Cambodia and used Yama as the king of karmic Judgments and punishments.

Later came the reading of a scratched inscription attributing the statue to king Yama. Then the name Yama was torturously connected to the Khmer word ‘Galan’ meaning leper.

Another potential leprous pretender was the hero of the myth of the origin of Cambodia, the prince Preah Thon, but he could not have a seat on the Terrace of the Leper King; he survived leprosy and killed the king of the nagas living under the Bayon. The legend would be of a later date than Bayon.
Around 1930, a French scholar [Goloubew] cherished the idea to correlate the legend of the Leper King with the story sculpted in Room 28 (see above); gradually the assumption that the leper person was
Jayavarman VII began to be accepted. For me, both the statue and the reliefs are unsubstantial evidence.
I conclude by saying that despite a variety of theories, leprosy or other diseases, the story of the Leper King remains a splendid legend not based in solid evidence. I happily re-narrate it despite the criticism I have noted above because it is part of the rich cultural heritage of Cambodia.

Addenda. More reclining figures.
After noticing in Briggs (1951: Fig. 51: 228) a reproduction of a reclining figure, presumed to be Jayavarman VII at Banteay Chmar (
Fig.18 in here), I have been informed by Dr. Olivier Cunin (who I thank greatly for his continuous support) that there is a similar figure at Bayon, to the right of the door of the Southern gallery-east wing. The figure of Banteay Chmar Eastern gallery southern wing is unfinished (Fig. 19) and it can be interpreted as that of a king resting in a small bedroom in his palace. The reliefs of Bayon show clearly that his harem and elegant princesses stay in different rooms. One row of them, on the lower register, may be taking care of young boys. Noticeable is the figurine of a dancing man identical to that seen at Bayon dancing in front of the royal palace where a king (or admiral) was comfortably sitting after the naval battle (see my paper on the Naval Battle).
In the context of the legend of the Leper King interpreted by previous scholars, the figure may be, as usual, that of Jayavarman VII miraculously cured from leprosy, surrounded by his entourage. I think instead it has nothing to do with the legend. At Banteay Chmar and Bayon, the figure is simply that of a commander or an important personage (the King?) resting after a great battle.
Olivier Cunin also informed me that these two figures were not carved at the same time (Banteay Chmar being possibly older than Bayon) raising the suspicion that they may represent different individuals. However the sculptors’ workshops were the same for the two temples.


Ang, Choulean, In the beginning was the Bayon, in Bayon, New perspectives, edited by Joyce Clark, River Books, Bangkok 2007: 362-377
Aymonier, Etienne, Le Cambodge, Vol 3, Leroux, Paris 1903
Delaporte, Louis, Voyage au Cambodge. Ch.Delagrave, Reprint Maisonneuve, Paris 1999
Briggs, Lawrence Palmer, The Ancient Khmer Empire, White Lotus reprint, Bangkok 1951
Groslier, Bernard Philippe , INDOCHINE, Carrefour des Arts, Albin Michel, Paris 12961
Groslier, Bernard Philippe, Le Bayon, EFEO Mémoires Archéologique Vol. III-2, Maisonneuve, Paris 1973
Hang, Chan Sophea, Stec Gamlan and Yay Deb, in History, Buddhism and New religious Movements in Cambodia, by John Marston and Elizabeth Guthrie, University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu 2004: 113-126
JSA (Japanese Safeguarding Angkor), Annual report on the technical Survey of Angkor Monuments 004, Japanese International Cooperation Centre, Shinjuku, 2004
Pelliot, Paul, Memoires sur les Coutumes du Cambodge de Tcheou Ta-Kouan, Maisonneuve, Paris, 1951
Roveda, Vittorio, The reliefs of the Bayon, in Bayon, New perspectives, edited by Joyce Clark, River Books, Bangkok 2007: 284-375
Roveda, Vittorio, The World of Khmer Mythology, published by APSARA, Phnom Penh 2013
Thompson, Ashley, The Suffering King, in History, Buddhism and New religious Movements in Cambodia, by John Marston and Elizabeth Guthrie, University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu 2004: 91-111

Bangkok, June 2016

Fig.1 – The statue of the Leper King as illustrated by Mouhot in1896-98 (reprint 1999)
Fig.2-The statue of the Leper Kink protected by flimsy roof, around 1910-1930.
The ‘shrine’ I similar to those made for the spirits of nature.
Fig.3 – An early picture of the statue of the Leper King together with his assistants, now reduced to crumbling rocks. All three statues are affected by extreme leprosy as revealed by the lichen’s white crusts.

Fig.4 – Two recent photographs of the statue as it appears today.

Fig.5 – The statue of the Leper king appeared in the square of Phnom Penh, all painted white (probably except the legs).  Picture taken around 1940 (?)

Fig.6 – Internal courtyard of the National Museum with the small pavilion protecting the statue of the Leper King. (2016). This is his last destination (photo by Sopheaktra 2016)

Fig.7 – The statue as I found on a terrace a few years after Michael Freeman published this photograph in 1990: 249
Fig.8 – The statue restored and embellished as I found on the terrace in 2002
Fig.9 – Plan of Bayon’s  Room 28 (XXVIII), a small room of the outer  gallery between tower 22 and 37 (Plan by Olivier Cunin)
Fig10 (above)-A spectacular view of the terrace with the statue of the leper Jama and his two assistants at the very back of the platform which was probably used for important cremations. The picture was taken by Guy Nafilyan, probably in the 60s. 

Fig.11 -20 (below)  – Images taken in Room 28 (XXVIII) in 2003-2005 by myself

Fig.11 -20 – Images taken in room XXXVIII in 2003-2005 by myself.
Fig.21 – View of the eastern face of the Terrace, carved with the inhabitants of the underworld and the king of the nagas (bottom-center) (photo 2002)

Fig.22 – View of the same terrace central- top register carved the with the figure of Jama (decapitated) with multiple arms and flanked by his two assistants (photo 2002).

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