Kamupōtia’s Bayon Temple

Here’s one of my favourite shots from my December pilgrimage to the temples of Siem Reap, ‘Kamupōtia’ (“Cambodia”):

Bayon is a 12th century masterpiece, carved-out and completed by an existing settlement of Cambodian ‘tangata whenua’ (“locals”) 100 years before the very first East Polynesian ‘waka-hourua’ (the “double-hulled canoes” of our tīpuna, our ariki, our tipua) landed upon our fair whenua here at the bottom of the South Pacific;

That’s old, whānau.

Colloquially and instantly recognisable worldwide as the “face temple”, credit for the construction of Bayon’s 54 towers and 216+ faces goes to the Khmer-Angkor king of the time, Jayavarman VII.

Rumoured to bear more than a passing resemblance to this guy, no-one seems to be able to definitively say whether these ‘kanohi’ (“faces”) are simply an exercise in self-love, or rather, what they’re also purported to be: the face/s of the ‘bodhisattva’ (earthly “buddha-to-be”), ‘Avalokiteshvara’ (“the lord who looks in every direction” (- explains a lot about the temple, and the orientation of the faces themselves)).

Regardless, I’d yearned really deeply for quite some time to be here and just bliss-out, and felt spectacularly stoked to finally live that.

With its carved faces and corresponding stories on display for all to see, Bayon for me was incredibly reminiscent of the marae atmosphere that’s so easily recognisable and familiar, with ‘whakapapa’ (“the genealogical journey of the place”) at the centre-core of everything.

We’re totally, all of us, indigenous to Papatūānuku, nē..?  We certainly all have our histories etched on her beautiful form some way, some where


Leave a Reply