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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Temple Watch: Wat's in a name

Temple Watch: Wat's in a name

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For those curious about the meanings of the names of Angkor temples, here is a brief explanation for the most popular nomenclature: Angkor Wat literally means Temple City. The Thom in Angkor Thom means big. The meaning of Bayon is unclear, but a plausible translation is Leading Sacred Amulet. Prasat Bei near the south gate of Angkor Thom means Three Towers. Ta in Ta Prohm means grandfather or old man.

 Prohm refers to the four-headed Hindu god Brahma. The original Sanskrit name Rajavihara means Royal Monastery. Preah Khan refers to the sacred sword used only by the king. The Sanskrit original name Nagara Jayashri means City of the Victor. Banteay in Banteay Srey means citadel. Srey originally meant wealth in Sanskrit, and the modern translation of the Khmer term means women. Banteay Kdei means Citadel of the Cells, referring to the monks' cells in the temple close to Ta Prohm. The name of the brick temple of Pre Rup on the Grand Circuit translates as the turning of the body to ash.  Pre Rup is considered to be a funeral temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The exact origin of Ta Som is unknown, but possibly means Old Man named Som.

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