Wat Phu Champasak Museum

23

Nov
2021

Wat Phu Champasak Museum
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Housed in a modern building situated close to the entrance of the Wat Phu complex, the Wat Phu Champasak Museum has an excellent collection of exhibits telling the story of this ancient temple as well as those of the other Khmer sites in the area. The museum is well lit and all the exhibits are captioned in English. The statuary on display includes a stone figure of Nandi, the sacred bull and the mount of Shiva; an elaborate and well- preserved statue of Vishnu,  the Protector of Creation, one of the gods in the Hindu pantheon; a Garuda, the eagle mount of Vishnu, and Ganesha, the elephant god. Amid this impressive display of Hindu iconography also stands an elegant 8th-century Dvaravati image of the Buddha, since the pre-Angkorian Khmers were followers of both Hinduism and Buddhism. The museum also contains an excel- lent collection of sandstone lintels, with intricate stone carvings, recovered from the private col- lection of Prince Boun Oum, and brought here for safekeeping.  Another interesting piece is the carved stone water spout that originally carried holy water to the central Shiva lingam (phallic symbol) in the uppermost temple of Wat Phu. Pride of place in this museum, however, is given to the artistically unimpressive, but historically significant, 5th-century Sanskrit inscription that was found at Wat Luang Gau, near the town of Champasak. This stone inscription contains a clear mention of the original founder of the stunning Wat Phu Champasak – a Cham king named Devanika – thus laying to rest any doubts about the origins of the temple.

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