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Prae Roop (ប្រែរូប)

Khmer. Present-day name of a Hindu temple at Angkor dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It was dedicated in either 961 AD or early 962 AD as the state temple of King Rajendravarman II and is the oldest temple of the Angkorian Period and probably built on the location of a former Shivaite ashram that dates back the previous century. The modern name of this temple can be translated as ‘to turn the body’, with roop being a term used for respected people, similar to the Thai classifier roop (รูป) used for monks, which likewise can be translated as ‘body’ or ‘image’. It is assumed that the temple was used as a structure on which the corpses of royalty and high ranking monks were cremated. It was built with a combination of brick, laterite (fig.) and sandstone, and made to resemble a towering mount, akin to Mt. Meru, i.e. the abode of the Hindu gods, and a term also used for a ‘crematorium [for high dignitaries]’. The name ‘to turn the body’ may hence refer to either the ritual rotation of the body in a circular, anti-clockwise procession, in Sanskrit called prasavya and in Thai known as uttarawat, during funerals, or to the fact that deceased transforms into a heavenly body or form, as another possible translation would be ‘to transform the body’, or ‘to become the image’. Also transliterated Pre Ruhp and often Pre Rup, and usually referred to as Prasat Prae Roop, with the term prasat standing for the palace for a king or god and in which the tower, in both religious and secular perspective, represents Mount Meru, the abode of the gods in the clouds. At the top are five towers in total, arranged in a quincunx, one at each corner of the square and one in the centre, the latter representing Mt. Meru. Each of the surrounding towers once contained a statue of a Hindu deity, namely Vishnu in the southeast tower and his shakti Lakshmi in the southwest tower, while Shiva stood in the northeast tower and his respective consort Uma in the northwest tower. See also TRAVEL PICTURES (1) and (2), and MAP.