Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.


faults in the clouds of delusion

Friday, March 16, 2007

Dropping Angkor

Bayon -- Angkor Thom

Angkor Wat

Bhishma -- Angkor Wat

Ascending Angkor Wat

Angkor sunset

Angkor sunrise

Angkor sunrise

Angkor sunrise

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

Self-portrait in a thousand years -- Preah Khan

Preah Khan

Tonle Sap


Sunset at Phnom Bakheng

Size does matter


Blogger km said...

You've been to Angkor Wat! Lucky bastard.

Isn't India's ASI responsible for re-ruining these monuments?

3/16/2007 5:36 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

yes, we saw evidence of the ASI at work at Ta Prohm, which was my favorite of the temples we visited. traces of the french, japanese, and germans were also visible around the place.

where do you think i was this last weekend? ;-)

3/16/2007 9:44 AM  
Blogger Szerelem said...

Haha...I knew you were in Ankor!
I'm really looking forward to my trip there next month. And btw, really nice pics.

3/16/2007 10:02 AM  
Blogger Brown Magic said...

i imagine the whole point of these pictures was to induce jealousy, and prance around all smug.

well played, sir. well played.

3/16/2007 10:45 AM  
Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Brown Magic has it.
Show-off, is what I say.

(Loved the last caption)


3/16/2007 6:13 PM  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Oh, so now you expect us to feel all envious and compliment you on the photographs, eh? Okay, fine...we ARE envious AND the pix are nice :-)

Nice one! :-)

3/16/2007 8:36 PM  
Blogger km said...

Your "ascending Angkor" picture reminded me of that notorious Led Zeppelin album cover. Next time, ask your subjects to pose in the nude and then Photoshop the picture with a pink/yellow glow.

//I can give creative suggestions all day.

3/16/2007 10:03 PM  
Blogger Revealed said...

All these places to see. Think I'll have to stop working and start travellling the world. There are no two ways about it! [-(

(is the ASI helping or harming? My sis has a great story about them asking her to fudge records :P)

3/16/2007 11:55 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

thank you, and lucky you!

wellllll, not quite the *whole* point. a text-only post follows, as i get some time over the weekend.

yes, serendipity :-D

nice to know we're on the same page ;-)

heh, keep going...

they're not mutually incompatible, you know! i did this plumb spang in the middle of the teacher semester. (cue smug prance).

the ASI seemed to be doing good, as far as i could tell. (on a different note) i learned from the rough guide that india was one of the few "notable" countries that supported cambodia through its recent horror.

3/17/2007 12:25 AM  
Blogger km said...

Ahem. ASI's contribution to Angkor Wat has been universally slammed. (and there are several sides to that story, like Akira-san taught us)

As an example, read this.

My googlefu ain't working, but also look for a William Dalrymple interview about how ASI has harmed AW.

P.S.: I was at one of Karnataka's treasured (but "minor") temples and was AGHAST to see ASI workers working with *concrete*. That's so not cool.

3/17/2007 1:44 AM  
Blogger Revealed said...

Was surprised that ASI was getting praise but then saw the brickbats and my world fell back into place :D. Nice to know that some things can be relied on, no?

And India being "notable" sez something profound about perspective, I think. Just can't put my finger on it :P

3/17/2007 5:25 AM  
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3/17/2007 7:50 AM  
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3/17/2007 8:28 AM  
Blogger Szerelem said...

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On a seperate note...I have been meaning to mail you, but have nothing to add to what I told you earlier. So how about I get in touch with you once my plans are slightly more concrete?

3/17/2007 11:48 AM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Just beautiful. Angkor is a dream destination for me. Someday soon, I hope.

I know that it's probably not fashionable to give props to ASI, but to work in Cambodia in those days of instability required a fair amount of courage.

3/17/2007 12:28 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

thanks a lot for the heads-ups. (one nice surprise -- darryl d'monte is a close relative of a good friend.) there are definitely many sides to the asi stories. yes, a lot of what they did was probably highly unprofessional, but, as thalassa_m points out, at least they *tried*. at least they did *something*. it's an absolute travesty to see the number of statues there which have had their heads simply sliced off. not broken off -- *sliced* using some sort of modern machinery.

revealed, thalassa:
here's the extract that i was referring to -- i tracked it down in the rough guide (pp 308-9). the reference is to the period starting the late 70s, when the vietnamese-backed PRK supplanted the khmer rouge (for those who are unaware, during its 4-year reign, this regime managed to slaughter over 2 million people - over 20% of the country's population - including practically the entire educated class).
"Although coverage of Cambodia's plight brought limited aid from the West, the havoc wrought by the Khmer Rouge was in general disregarded by the major powers, who deemed Cambodia to be occupied under the Vietnamese and consequently *ostracized* the PRK (the USSR and India were notable exceptions). Safely in Thailand, Pol Pot was supported by the Thai, Chinese, and US governments [strange bedfellows, anyone?], all ardently anti-Vietnamese, as the prime minister of the legitimate government. As news of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge surfaced, his supporters preferred to continue to punish Vietnam; bizarrely, the Thais and Chinese fed, clothed, trained, and even re-armed Khmer Rouge soldiers, while UN agencies were allowed to look after Khmer Rouge in their camps, but were prevented from helping the decimated population of Cambodia."

what a travesty.

omar, celia:
welcome, visit again, and next time, bring along a few samples.

i'll have you know that "bong" is a term of respectful endearment in the khmer language. make of that what you will :-D

sure, email any time. especially if you have designs on a grad degree in business or social science -- let me know.

3/17/2007 8:36 PM  
Blogger Revealed said...

Def a travesty. But I don't think they're strange bedfellows at all. Makes mucho sense.

Re: ASI. People, they're extremely unprofessional. They do as much harm as they actually help. They have absolutely *no* uniform procedure. They *hack* at sites with *any* implement they can manage (including rakes and spades). They ask their employees to fudge records. Not turn a blind eye, you understand? Being an employee means you should be willing to perjure your soul gaily. The rest need not apply sorta thing. And yeah, there are lotsa young archeologists who would work happily in Cambodia or *anywhere* else but they have a dog's life. And to get anywhere you have to do the whole know someone who knows someone rigmarole. Otherwise you don't have a shot in hell.

Sorry about the outburst. But please don't imagine that the ASI are being unfairly knocked down. In a country like ours with such a rich history the work that they're doing is sacrilege.

3/18/2007 12:09 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

you obviously know a lot more about this than i do, and you seem to be speaking from personal experience - your sister is/was obviously associated with them. so yes, your opinions will carry a lot more weight here than mine. however, note that no one here has claimed that the ASI was being "unfairly knocked". thalassa stated that to work in cambodia in those days required a fair amount of courage, and i stated that to my superficial glance, they seemed to be doing good. at the very least, they were there. i have little to no idea about any destruction they may have wrought on monuments in india.

i've been meaning to follow this photo-post about this cambodia trip with one that talks about my experiences during my short visit. one major theme i want to highlight there is the free reign given to hordes of tourists to tramp about these monuments, unrestrained. the moronic woman sitting on a 1200 year old lingam in the last picture here is one example. the idiot korean stubbing his cigarette out on a carving at ta prohm was another. given such an environment, in my books *anyone* who's working to preserve these magnificent monuments is with the good guys.

3/18/2007 11:06 AM  
Blogger MockTurtle said...

Great. You visited Cambodia, I was in scenic South Allston. You walked up Angor Wat, I barely walked out of The Kells on St Paddy's night, where not one of those sozzled Irishmen even knew that they had a team that was about to make it to the super 8. Irony.

3/18/2007 11:48 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

hey, some among us would dearly love to be able to pop in and out of south allston at will, you know!

3/18/2007 8:47 PM  
Blogger Rahul said...

Nice pics and lucky you.

KM -- the frontline article you linked to doesn't, to my reading, seem very critical of the ASI. It quotes some criticisms but also counters them, and (as TR says) highlights the fact that they were the only ones to work there until 1993.

It's basically impossible to maintain a 1200 year old structure in the state in which it was built. Look at the patchworked roof that is the (much younger) Notre Dame in Paris. The criticisms by western organisations of ASI's approach need time to validate -- their approaches may not work any better in the long run. Cf. the last paragraph of Darryl D'Monte's article.

3/18/2007 9:37 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

thankee. try visiting before it disappears.

3/19/2007 9:07 AM  
Blogger Revealed said...

Sigh. This unnatural glorification of ASI is most troubling (see Rahul's comment). I suppose it reflects the Indian attitude of not being very bothered with our historical monuments or their preservation. Maybe when you grow up with that 1000 year old mosque two roads from your house it's easy to forget how fragile these scraps of history are. The Western world *is* definitely more scrupulous about their care of monuments (as TR pointed out, the case of the moronic woman and the smoking man). Not gonna get into an argument about it though! :)

Looking forward to the wordy one :)

3/19/2007 9:52 PM  
Blogger Revealed said...

Maybe I should get my sis to put up a post on my blog.

3/19/2007 9:52 PM  
Blogger Rahul said...

revealed -- who said one shouldn't be bothered with historical monuments? I merely said I saw no evidence, in this thread, that the ASI isn't doing a good job. No doubt it's not perfect, but -- if I may borrow your argument -- I suppose it reflects the Indian attitude of bashing every Indian organisation and saying the west is so much better. (Darryl D'Monte seems to have found that the locals in Cambodia don't think so.)

Would be interested in reading your sister's post.

I believe there is not a single Western building of comparable antiquity to Angkor Vat, or Mahabalipuram or the Thanjavur temple, that has not been remodelled and rebuilt, piecewise or whole, many times through history. Unless one counts some of the Roman ruins, which are, well, ruins. The concern with authenticity in preservation is a very 20th-century thing in the west.

3/19/2007 11:45 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

I'm with rahul on this one. based on the evidence of what's been written in this thread, i don't think anyone is glorifying ASI unnaturally here. and i'd love to read what your sister has to say.

3/19/2007 11:58 PM  
Blogger Revealed said...

1. Never said anyone said that we shouldn't be bothered about our monuments. It's definitely true however that we're not, *as a nation*. I am not suggesting that you, rahul or you, tr are specifically the ones who're unnaturally disinterested in india's monuments. Didn't mean it to sound like that.

2. Unnatural glorification might have been a hyperbolic reference. I would have been better off saying 'unresearched support of'. So let me rephrase it as such :).

3. Yeah, the Western world has done a lot of patchwork but who sez that a monument should remain untouched and preserved exactly as is over millions of years. That's just unreasonable. The reason we preserve monuments is not for a romantic or fanciful love of our past (though that is a major contributor) but also because a number of them are very real feats of architectural and aesthetic magnificence. So suggesting that Westerners don't take care of their monuments *because* they patch them up is a weird defence.

4. Roman remains of amphitheatres etc as well as Greek ones are pretty well maintained actually.

5. There are alarmingly old historic monuments untouched by modern hands (eg. stonehenge).

6. I don't appreciate the generalisation about people who continually fete Western civilization. I think it's important to have an open mind about it. Somethings they *are* better about and surely there's no shame in learning from it? Some things they're not. It's as simple as that. Some Indians seem to have a heavily weighted opinion whenever it comes to comparisons with the West.

7. I shall talk to my sis. She's away at a dig in Hoogli actually. But when she gets back I'll ask her if she will :). She's a lot more balanced than me and less liable to give unintended offence. :)

3/20/2007 6:21 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

we agreed that our support was unresearched, didn't we? now the onus is on you to provide us the research, and i for one am very keen to know more about this. (your sister's at a dig in hooghly? what's she diggin for, potatoes? *cue remarks about indians and 1000-year old mosques*)

revealed, rahul:
is this going to turn into a "love the west" vs. "hate india" flame war between the two of youse? if so, let me know and i'm pulling up the comfy cushions :-D

3/20/2007 10:13 AM  
Blogger Rahul said...

revealed -- "who sez that a monument should remain untouched and preserved exactly as is over millions of years. That's just unreasonable."

In that case, what exactly is the objection to what ASI is doing? Just curious. Clearly I misunderstood your objections totally.

3/20/2007 10:34 AM  
Blogger Revealed said...

@tr: Fine, fine. People in glass houses and such like. I know :P. Just saying. And she's not digging for potatos (atlst I hope she isnt :P). Note careful restraint on subject of mosques.

@rahul: That was *your* objection!! That people were patching things together. I'm merely objecting to 1. destroying excavations by hacking with spades instead of brushing with ..well, brushes!! 2. Filing away excavated remains by guess. 3. Re-filing already filed excavation remains by second guessing the first guess!!! 4. Not making enough of an effort to excavate what could definitely prove very interesting archeological finds. 5. Have you seen the rock temples at Mahabs? I remember a time when they were beautiful and clear cut. Now they've been thoroughly eroded by not just natural elements but by millions of people rubbing against the stone and the acid from our skin getting spread on the stones. You don't think that could have been prevented? And this is over the past decade or so.

Maybe I'm seriously inarticulate!!! Or mebbe it's just cos im as much an amateur as ne of u guys :P. Only smatterings I learnt from my sis.

3/20/2007 12:54 PM  
Blogger Revealed said...

And as for the article that km linked to (I only got a chance to read it fully now) but I think that rather supports the points I've raise (and I'm most pleasantly surprised).

1. The preservation effort is INTERNATIONAL!

2. The ASI sprayed chemicals all over the walls which everyone else is frantically trying to remove now.

3. The ASI has no records of what exactly was sprayed on it.

4. All the skilled Indian archeologists were snapped up by the French.

I believe I rest my case :D

3/20/2007 1:02 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

i'm getting your point now, and of course, it's reasonable. i guess rahul and i (although i'll let him speak for himself) were a little taken aback by the emotion you led with, rather than the facts. never mind, you have piqued my curiosity considerably.

as for the d'monte article -- it's a well-written well-balanced piece, isn't it? so naturally both sides will find points to support their case!

ps. blogrolled you right back.

3/20/2007 1:46 PM  
Blogger Rahul said...

Well, I see what you were saying... my post was in response to KM's link, not in response to what you were saying, so we were talking at cross purposes I guess. I don't really know what techniques the ASI is using, but I remember reading about an ongoing excavation in MP (somewhere near Gwalior, I forget which site) and it seemed to say the work was slow and painstaking.

I can't say whether their treatment is good or bad, but "1 to 2 percent ammonia followed by 2 percent PMMA" sounds specific enough to me. The article also claims that the ICC wants ASI's cooperation, which seems unlikely if ASI's work was such a botch as all that.

I too remember Mahabalipuram being sharp and clear-cut, but I'm sure that's just my fuzzy childhood memory. Tourists rub statues at hand level, but they don't clamber all over the monuments. The "Arjuna's penance" thing is so highly eroded that it's hard to make out what it's about (it's probably not about Arjuna's penance), and I'm sure it took 1000 years to get that way, not 10 years.

I have heard criticisms of the ASI that they are a law unto themselves, because there is no "heritage building" law in most parts of India and the ASI is the ultimate authority.

3/20/2007 2:44 PM  
Blogger Revealed said...

"According to Ragavan, the ICC had written to the ASI for information on what precisely had been applied, but there was no reply. The team only left two pages of reports behind. "We are now making a strong plea that all participating countries make copies of their reports, so that we have complete records," he said. Ragavan believes that Narasimhaiah's book is not a full account of whatever the ASI did."

That's exactly what the article says.

LOL@ tourists clambering all over the monuments :). Have you seen the rathas with graffiti all over them? I grew up near there and we used to visit often. The 1000 years of erosion mebbe we can't do nething about, but the last 10 years we cud have, no? My sister says they sandblast monuments and apparently that's one of the most harmful things you can do. And archeologists everywhere are shunning this as a strategy cos it causes even more harm than it helps (understandable considering ur blasting the stone with sand!). But, like I said I shall leave the actual case building to my sis cos a lot of what I said is just from memories of conversations with her. She worked with them briefly and then resigned to preserve her dignity almost :P.

@tr: We are like that only. What to do ? :)

ps: I saw. And was much honored and quite a bit confused. I still cannot understand why someone like u wud want to read something like that (the insults being all aimed at my blog and none at you) :)

3/20/2007 10:50 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

hey, no insults here, please.

confusion is good, long as there's not too much and you can get some relief.

3/21/2007 9:45 AM  

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