Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Angkor Park authorities refurbishing 3 Buddhas

Angkor Park authorities refurbishing 3 Buddhas

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Apsara National Authority (ANA) experts repair three Buddha statues at Angkor Wat temple’s central spire, also known as ‘Bakan Tower’, in this image released on Monday. ANA

Angkor Park authorities refurbishing 3 Buddhas

The Apsara National Authority (ANA) is repairing three more Buddha statues at Angkor Wat’s “Bakan tower”, the central tower-like spire and one of the most iconic features of the ancient temple.

Experts at the Department of Temple Preservation in Angkor Park say the repairs could take five months or more.

Soy Sophearin, technical officer of the ANA’s Department of Conservation of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology, said the restoration project of the Buddha statues began early this month.

According to the ANA, the project to renovate the statues was financially supported by Seang Chanheng, director-general of Heng Development Co, Ltd. Last November, ANA sculptors completed the restoration of a dilapidated Buddha statue in the south corner of Bakan tower.

Sophearin said the damage to the statues was due to natural factors. The urine of nesting bats created a humid environment, and the moisture and salinity of the environment affected the statues. The department’s team was replacing netting which would prevent the bats from roosting inside the statues.

He added that the three Buddha statues were made of stone, which the ancients had posted on the four gates of Angkor Wat as gestures of immunity. The statues are at high risk because they were losing their protective slate coating.

“It’s not just on the body of the Buddha, the coating is peeling away from the plinth that the statues are mounted on, and the more the statue and plinth are exposed, the more rapidly they deteriorate,” he said.

He said the repairs are designed to prevent the slate from peeling off the stone, while finding a way to replace the slate that had already fallen away. The slate is attached with a mortar – which is beginning to decay – so experts must discover how to prevent the mortar from continuing to decompose.

He said there are two layers of discolouration. The first is black and the second is red. Some parts were originally covered with gold, but the gold almost entirely been peeled off. Now the team is cleaning the statues where they are stained by smoke – from candles and incense – and bat urine.

“The black is mostly caused by smoke damage, but because the stains are so deep, we must clean them very carefully,” he said.

The official suggested that the timetable for restoration may be unrealistic, because this work requires a lot of patience and careful colour matching to achieve the look of the original.

“We cannot set an exact deadline because these statues date from the 15th century. If we approach this task with too much haste, we may undo the good work we have already carried out,” he added.


  • Ministry orders all schools, public and private, to close for SEA Games

    From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Cambodia will host the

  • Almost 9K tourists see equinox sunrise at Angkor Wat

    Nearly 9,000 visitors – including 2,226 international tourists – gathered at Angkor Wat on March 21 to view the spring equinox sunrise, according to a senior official of the Siem Reap provinical tourism department. Ngov Seng Kak, director of the department, said a total of 8,726 people visited Angkor Wat to

  • Angkor Beer strengthens national pride with golden new look and fresher taste

    Angkor Beer – the "Gold of Angkor" – has a new look, one that is more stylish and carries a premium appeal, as well as a fresher taste and smoother flavour, making it the perfect choice for any gathering. Angkor Beer recently launched its new design, one

  • Newest horror film showcases unique Khmer culture, identity

    At first glance, the trailer to new horror sensation The Ritual: Black Nun looks like a western-produced feature film. As the story reveals itself to the viewers, it becomes clearer that this is a Khmer film, with a strong Cambodian identity and close links to

  • Water supply authority assures public shortages over early ‘24

    The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) asked for understanding from Phnom Penh residents in some communes where water pressure is weak. They assured residents that all supply issues will be resolved by early 2024, but have suggested that residents use water sparingly in the meantime.

  • Khmer ballet documentary debuts April 1

    A new documentary, The Perfect Motion, or Tep Hattha in Khmer, will premiere to the public on April 1. The documentary film follows two intertwined storylines: the creation of a show called Metamorphosis by the late Princess Norodom Buppha Devi (her very last production) and the