Jayavarman VII on Bayon Towers, Bayon StyleTruly one of the most evocative religious structures in the world, the temple-mountain of Bayon (at the heart of Angkor Thom) stands as a stupendous memorial to the restless genius Jayavarman VII whose implacable thirst for immortality inspired the highest achievements in Khmer art, even as his obsession with absolute power drove the empire itself to the brink of ruin. Bayon is fin de siecle art in both the literal and highest aesthetic sense of the term. Its mystical and melancholy beauty breathes the paradoxical spirit of a ruler who, even in the colorful annals of Asian despotism, must rank foremost among the religiously deluded megalomaniacs of all times. Each of the 54 parsats (temples) that compose Bayon is surmounted by a colossal effigy with four faces which, whether it represents Lokesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion with whom Jayavarman identified as king, or the Enlightened One himself as Buddharaja (Buddha as sovereign), displays the personal features of Jayavarman VII himself. One or two of such divine self-portraits alone may be regarded as hubris. Originally, however, Bayon contained no less than 200 such works with the countenance of the ruler looking down benignly (the literal meaning of Lokesvara) upon the empire. Such excess, spring from Jayavarmans intimations of his own divinity, foreshadowed the Khmer empires ultimate and precipitous collapse, overburdened by, paradoxically, the building of far too many religious public welfare buildings.
Cast Stone There is a particular region of Thailand that has a long tradition of sandstone sculpting. Unfortunately, the number of exceptional artisans has dwindled in recent generations; there is only a handful of artisans left who qualify for the highest level of Thai craftsmanship. Fortunately, Eastern Serenity has been able to locate them and their prot??g??s. In making cast sandstone, the artisans will hand-design the master relief out of clay - a process that might take weeks to complete, depending on the size and detail of the piece. A mold is then made of this original clay master; this can be a very difficult task for our more detailed pieces. This mold is then used to make reproductions of the original. However, as there are many variables this is not a straightforward task. Determining color and strength is extremely difficult. Too much of one mixing agent can make the piece prone to the elements of nature, too little and the casting just will not hold together. We have also determined how to achieve the right coloring effect - whether it is a long-lasting matte color or a finish that will fade naturally and quickly to give the piece a naturally weathered look. Eastern Serenity has spent the time to discover the correct balance of sandstone powder, binding material, and coloring agents to use for the right outcome. Our sandstone pieces are set in frames of local tropical wood, professionally constructed to give you a long lasting wall hanging with a natural, tropical look and feel.