Sunday, September 25, 2022

Khmer Empire (AD 802 to 1431)

In 802 Jayavarman II from Java, where he had been in captivity or exile, forces a number of small Khmer kingdoms to unite, founding the Khmer Empire and building a capital; he then declares himself Chakravartin (‘ruler of the world’); Hinduism becomes the official religion of the empire.

The Khmer Empire flourished from the 9th to the 13th century and at its peak was the most powerful empire in Southeast Asia. The Khmer empire ruled much of what is now Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

They exported exotic forest products and imported Chinese and Indian handicrafts. From the beginning of the 9th century, Chinese and Indian traders travelled throughout the region bringing their religions with them. As the Khmer people adopted these beliefs, they began building beautiful temples to honour their gods.

The complex known as Angkor Wat was built during the 12th century. It is the largest religious structure in the premodern world. It was originally a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu that by the 12th century would later become a Buddhist sanctuary.

Like many great empires in history, internal fractures and external forces began to wear away at the stability of the realm. By the time Zhou Daguan visited Angkor in 1296, the Empire was already in decline. After the neighboring Tai peoples captured Angkor in the 15th century, the Khmer empire crumbled. The region subsequently underwent four centuries of foreign invasions, civil war, and widespread depopulation.
Khmer Empire (AD 802 to 1431)

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