Entangled Traditions: The Royal Barges of Angkor

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The extensive corpus of nautical iconography of Angkor (Cambodia) shows boats used in a wide variety of settings that indicate political and cosmological responses to human-environment-driven interactions. For example, from the 11th c. onward royal boats were lavishly decorated with high prows that increased their visibility, which suggests a desire to waste resources and engage in what behavioural ecology defines as costly signalling, a display of power to exhibit a group’s prowess and ability to defend their territory. These boats were used in a variety of settings: from pilgrimages to sacred places, to warfare, festivals, and elaborated rituals performed on water (both in man-made and natural spaces). The choice of boat decoration depicted in the nautical iconography shows a preference for the use of Indian iconography, a trend already present in land remains around the lower Mekong basin. This suggests that whilst the region probably had a pre-Indian stratum of beliefs surrounding the use of aquatic spaces, the constant interactions they had with Indian traders from the beginning of the 1st millennia CE eventually provided the basis for the construction of an elaborate hybrid cosmology surrounding these aquatic spaces. Preliminary research suggests that this cosmology served as the religious framework upon which the kings of Angkor exerted control over the river network and the people living in and around it. This paper will explore the development of Angkor’s nautical technology and design in the context of boat usage, looking particularly at the way in which Indian culture was incorporated into Angkorian narratives of power.
Titel på värdpublikationThe Archaeology of Knowledge Traditions of the Indian Ocean World
RedaktörerHimanshu Phraba Ray
Antal sidor17
FörlagRoutledge, Taylor & Francis
Utgivningsdatum20 nov. 2020
ISBN (tryckt)9780367335465
ISBN (elektroniskt)9780429321856
StatusPublicerad - 20 nov. 2020
MoE-publikationstypA3 Del av bok eller annan forskningsbok


  • 615 Historia och arkeologi

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