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Note sur Kumbhakarṇa dans l'iconographie khmère

Arts asiatiques
PERSEE Program
Publication Date
DOI: 10.3406/arasi.1995.1370
  • Religious Science


Among the representations of the Ramayana in Cambodia, the battle of raksasa Kumbhakarna, Ravana's brother, against Rama's army appears in both the Angkorian and modern arts. Angkor iconography follows Valmiki text (Baphuon, Thammanon, Khao Phanom Rung temples), favouring two episods : Kumbhakarna's awakening and his struggle with a host of monkeys. Modern iconography follows the Ramakerti which is the Khmer version of the Ramayana (S. Pou, Ramakerti (XVIe-XVIIe siècles) Paris 1977) as well as an early twentieth century text written by a high ranking Khmer official, Oknha Veang Thiounn. In these texts, Kumbhakarna's struggle is, together with that of Indrajit, one of the great battles which precede the final mêlée. This series of episods has been depicted in the paintings in the cloister of the Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh, and those of Vat Bho sanctuary in Siemreap, as well as on the cement reliefs of Vat Kdol surrounding wall, in Battambang. In the most original paintings in Vat Bho, scenes displayed one on top of the other recall the pictures which appear on the screen of the Shadow theatre in Siempreap. The paintor showed in the sequence of scenes Ravana's call to Kumbhakarna, Kumbhakarna's act to deprive Rama's army of water, his asceticism to obtain a magic weapon, and finally his last battle. In this ultimate episod, Oknha Veang Thiounn's text introduces a buddhist note : dying Kumbhakarna is depicted sitting in meditation; as a matter of fact, having acknowledged the sacred nature of Rama, he will be able to be reborn in the Tusita heavens.

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