Thommanon Temple in Siem Reap Cambodia
The same to Chao Say Tevoda and Banteay Samre temples, Thommanon has no stone inscription which can be confirmed about its date of construction. However, the architectural structure and style suggest that the temple was built in between late 11th century to first half of 12th century.
According to the scenes depicted on frontons and lintels, mostly are about Vishnu. However, there are some scenes about Shiva as well as the Vissana Jakata of Buddhism. Lan Sunnary, a Khmer researcher who has studied detail about the carvings at Thommanon temple, confirmed that there are 28 scenes about Vishnu and his avatas, 11 scenes about Shiva, one scene about Harihara, and one scene about Vissana Jakata. There are other 26 scenes which couldn’t be identified.
Thommanon temple has many parts collapsed, but it was completely restored by Groslier in 1960s, in which the concrete ceilings were added. Nowadays, Thommanon could maintain its shape for the central sanctuary, library, and also the gopuras.
Thommanon is treated as one of the elegant temples, even the size is small. It’s situated east of Victory Gate of Angkor Thom, opposite with Chao Say Tevoda temple which was considered to be pair with Thommanon. However, they’re not, because Thommanon was built in the beginning of King Suryavarman II (1113-1150) while Chao Say Tevoda was built at the end of his reign.
Architecture Plan of Thommanon Temple
The Plan of Thommanon is very much similar to Chao Say Tevoda, which is also rectangular. The central sanctuary has a tower, a antechamber mandapa, and a short corridor connected in the east. Surrounded by laterite walls measure 60 m x 45 m, now only the traces of the laterite bases are remain. There are only two entrance gopuras, from the east and the west. In front of the east gopura, there is a T shape raised platform, which thought to be added in later time, that probably related to the Buddhism. Oddly, Thommanon has only one library at the South East corner.
Carving and Decorations
The sanctuary tower is the ogival tower like those at Angkor Wat. The base of the tower is 2.5 m high, finely decorated. There are three false doors at the south, west, and north, where the carvings are highly stylized, especially the female divinities with their elegant costumes and headdresses in the Angkor Wat Style. The sanctuary is accessed from the east through the short corridor and the mandapa. Most of the lintels and frontons are damaged, however, there are some still can be recognized.
- The east lintel of the sanctuary depicts Vishnu on his mount, Garuda.
- The interior fronton of the mandapa is about the death of Valin after the battle with Sugriva, a scene from Ramayana.
- The south facing fronton of the mandapa shows Ravana shaking Mount Kailasa, where Shiva is enthroned.
The east gopura is larger than the west, since it’s the orientation of the temple. It has three doors. Vishnu appears on the north and the south frontons, which at the north shows Vishnu defeats the two demons who were born from his ears. The relates legend goes that while Vishnu was reclining waiting for a new cycle of the world begin, a lotus flower growing out from his navel together with Brahma. Meanwhile, there were two demons were born out from his ears. They were Matu and Kaitapa, who were boastful and started to fight with Brahma. Then Vishnu was waken by their noises and defeating with them. It takes him many years to defeat these two demons. Generally, the carving of this scene always show Vishu in the middle of the two demons, his one hand holds the hair of one demon, another hand sometimes holds a sword pointing at the head of another demon and sometimes also holds the hair. Each leg of Vishnu step on the thigh of each demon.
The north fronton of the east gopura depicts about Vissana Jakata, perhaps was added later.
The west gopura has only one entrance door, but franked by two wings with windows. The decorations here are in good conditions, since the great care has been taken. The west fronton shows Vishnu in battle riding his mount, Garuda. On the upper fronton has Shiva as an ascetic. On the north upper fronton is a scene of Churning the ocean of Milk. The north lower fronton is about Vishnu receiving weapon from Shiva in order to kill demon. The south facing lower fronton is about Krishna lifting Mount Govardhana.
A single library at Thommanon is at the south east corner of the enclosure. It has elongated windows with balusters in the style of the mandapa. The interior is cramped with laterite. The library is opening to the west with a false door at the east. On the west facing upper fronton shows the scene of Churning the Ocean of Milk.