Antique Khmer Style Baphuon Bronze Dancing Apsara or Angel Statue - 34cm/14"

The Baphuon Period: An Architectural Marvel in Khmer History


The Baphuon period represents a fascinating era in Khmer history, characterized by the construction of the Baphuon temple, one of the most remarkable architectural achievements in the Khmer Empire. Situated in the heart of Southeast Asia, this period is known for its unique architectural and cultural contributions, marking an important phase in the development of the Khmer civilization.

Historical Context

The Baphuon period is generally considered to have occurred between the 11th and 12th centuries CE, during the reign of King Udayadityavarman II in the Khmer Empire. This period falls within the broader timeline of the Angkor era, which encompasses the height of Khmer power and cultural achievement.

The Baphuon Temple

At the center of the Baphuon period is the Baphuon Temple, a massive sandstone temple located in the Angkor Thom complex, Cambodia. The temple was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and is notable for its grandeur and architectural complexity. It is often regarded as a precursor to the iconic Angkor Wat, which was built later during the Angkor era.

Stone Baphuon

Architectural Marvel

The Baphuon Temple stands as a testament to the architectural ingenuity of the Khmer people. It is a three-tiered temple mountain, representing Mount Meru, the mythical abode of the gods in Hindu cosmology. The temple was constructed primarily using sandstone blocks, illustrating the Khmer's mastery of stone carving and construction techniques.

The most distinctive feature of the Baphuon Temple is its grand causeway, a raised walkway adorned with intricate bas-reliefs and detailed carvings. This causeway leads to the central sanctuary, where the main shrine was located. The bas-reliefs depict scenes from Hindu mythology, such as the churning of the milk ocean (Samudra Manthan), as well as everyday life in the Khmer Empire, providing valuable insights into the culture of the time.

Cultural Significance

The Baphuon Temple and the period in which it was built hold immense cultural significance. They reflect the enduring influence of Hinduism in Khmer society during this era. The Khmer Empire was deeply influenced by Indian culture and religion, with Hinduism being the dominant faith. The temple's dedication to Shiva exemplifies this religious connection.

The construction of the Baphuon Temple was not merely an architectural feat but a religious and political statement. It served as a symbol of the Khmer ruler's devotion to the gods, an assertion of the kingdom's power and wealth, and a place for worship and offerings to the deities.


The Baphuon period in Khmer history, with the construction of the Baphuon Temple at its core, represents a pivotal moment in the evolution of Khmer civilization. This period highlights the Khmer Empire's ability to create breathtaking architectural marvels that seamlessly integrated religious and political ideologies.

The Baphuon Temple stands as an enduring monument to the ingenuity and cultural richness of the Khmer people, foreshadowing the grandeur of the later Angkor era. As a testament to the enduring legacy of the Khmer civilization, the Baphuon Temple continues to captivate and inspire visitors and scholars from around the world, providing valuable insights into the history and culture of ancient Cambodia.

Bronze Baphuon