Antique Khmer Style Bronze Erawan Airavata or Elephant Statue - 44cm/18" Tall

Erawan in Cambodia: The Role of Airavata in Khmer Culture

Erawan, also known as Airavata, is a prominent figure in Hindu and Buddhist mythology, widely recognized as the divine white elephant and the mythical mount of Lord Indra, the king of Gods. While the Erawan elephant is deeply ingrained in Thai culture and spirituality, its presence extends to Cambodia as well, where it holds a significant place in the country's religious and cultural heritage. This Blog explores the role of Erawan in Cambodia, shedding light on its importance and symbolism within Khmer culture.

Hindu and Buddhist Influence

Cambodia's historical and cultural landscape has been deeply influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism, both of which revere Erawan as the sacred mount of Lord Indra. In Cambodia, Erawan is regarded as Airavata, and its presence is evident in various aspects of Khmer art and spirituality. The fusion of Hindu and Buddhist traditions in Cambodia has resulted in a unique interpretation of Erawan's symbolism.

Erawan in Khmer Art

Khmer art, particularly in the context of temple architecture and sculptures, often incorporates depictions of Erawan. Temples like Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Preah Khan feature intricate carvings and bas-reliefs of Airavata. The presence of these representations in Cambodia's architectural and artistic heritage underscores the enduring significance of Erawan in Khmer culture.

Erawan in Buddhist Beliefs

In Cambodia, which is predominantly Buddhist, Erawan's symbolism is not confined to Hinduism. Erawan can also be seen as a symbol of the Buddha's teachings, as embodied in the elephant's three heads, which represent wisdom, compassion, and strength. This interpretation aligns with the core principles of Buddhism, emphasizing the importance of these qualities in one's spiritual journey.

Khmer Erawan

Cultural Significance

Erawan holds cultural significance in Cambodia beyond its religious connotations. The elephant has a long history of being revered in Khmer culture. It is associated with strength, endurance, and wisdom, qualities valued by the Khmer people throughout their history.

Erawan in Royal Traditions

In Cambodia's history, white elephants, such as Erawan, were regarded as sacred and were often associated with royal traditions. The possession of a white elephant was considered a sign of divine blessing and a symbol of the monarch's legitimacy. White elephants were highly prized, and the Khmer royalty held elaborate ceremonies to honor them.

The Influence of Erawan in Modern Cambodia

Erawan continues to influence modern Cambodia. While the country's religious landscape has evolved over time, the cultural reverence for Erawan remains palpable. The influence of Erawan can be observed in art, festivals, and even contemporary sculptures and artwork.


Erawan, or Airavata, the divine white elephant, holds a unique and multifaceted role in Cambodia's cultural and religious heritage. Its presence in Khmer art, architecture, and symbolism speaks to the enduring influence of Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

Erawan's representation embodies qualities that are highly valued in Khmer culture, such as wisdom, compassion, and strength. In contemporary Cambodia, Erawan's legacy endures as a symbol of cultural and spiritual significance, bridging the gap between ancient traditions and the modern era, reminding the Khmer people of their rich and diverse cultural heritage.

Thai Erawan