Sophia University team finds Kannon pillar
Yomiuri Shimbun , August 25, 2001
Tokyo -- A team of researchers at Sophia
University said Friday it had excavated a stone pillar with numerous images of a Buddhist
deity dating back to the 12th century in the Angkor ruins in Cambodia.
The square pillar is
decorated with about 1,000 small carvings of Kannon, an important Boddhisatta
in Buddhism, the team led by Prof. Yoshiaki Ishizawa said.
The pillar was excavated
in Bantay Kdei, the ruins of a Buddhist temple complex in northwestern Cambodia that is
thought to date back to the late 12th century.
Discovery of such a large
number of Buddhist carvings in the Angkor ruins is very rare, and the research team said
it was a precious historical finding that points to the proliferation of the religion in
the region at the time.
According to the
researchers, the pillar is 45 centimeters across and 110 centimeters tall. It was
excavated from a site about one meter underground along with 30 Buddhist statues.
Though the whole of the
pillar has not been dug up, the researchers confirmed finding 252 curved images of Kannon,
each of which measures 3.5 by 3.5 centimeters, on one of the four sides, estimating that
it has 1,008 images on all four sides.
"Discovery of the stone pillar in addition to many statues proved that Buddhism had
attracted many followers and been popular among the people during Jayavarman VII's
Bantay Kdei is
believed to have been constructed by king who was an enthusiastic follower of Buddhism in
the early years of the Angkor dynasty.