Ta Keo (Preah Keo)

Ta Keo is a pyramid of five levels reaching a total height of 22m - the first two form the base of two enclosing courtyards, one surrounded by a simple wall and the other by a gallery, while the last three, through proportional reduction are a massive artificial plinth for the quincunx of sanctuaries.


View of Takeo Pyramid

 

 

This is the first realisation in sandstone of such a structure (generally dedicated to deified nobility) after the temple of Bakheng that crowned a natural hill serving as its core. Ta Keo is constructed with much more care in the systematic cutting and placing of enormous blocks of stone, the arrangement of which can be viewed easily, due to the absence of almost any moulding or decoration.

The reason for this temple remaining unfinished is unknown for it was abandoned soon after the start of its ornamentation. By these remaining fragments, this temple dates to the end of 10th century and the early years of the 11th. Inscriptions engraved on the door jambs of the eastern gopuras, relating to donations made to the temple (but not to its foundation) date from 1007.

Originally, the access to the monument was from the east across a moat by means of a paved causeway, preceded by lions in the style of the Bayon and lined with bornes. Some 500m further to the east is the bank of the Eastern Baray. The external enclosure wall forms a rectangle of 120m by 100m and is in sandstone on a laterite base. The second terrace dominates the first with an imposing moulded laterite base and four axial sandstone gopuras. From the courtyard, standing in front of the three tiers that form the 14m high central pyramid, one is left with a powerful impression.

The upper platform is square and almost entirely occupied by the quincunx of towers in their unfinished form. These open to the four cardinal points by projecting vestibules. The corner towers are set on plinths and are dominated by the central tower set on an elevated base with the development of its porticoes and frontons adding to its grandeur. Fragments of pedestals and of lingas are found both in and around the towers.


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