Power Shifts

I like to keep a tidy mind. But history is messy! In fact, history records stupefy! And day after day, my mind becomes messier and messier. And kilometre after kilometre I become dumber and dumber! What to do?

The trick, I figure out, is too uncover just enough. Pick up the trend. And sweep out the rest. Quickly. Smartly!

Dynasty after dynasty drops antiquity after antiquity. We see them in Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand.

I set to work. Spring clean my mind. Dust, then sweep, then wipe. Everything in its place, shiny and bright.

And out of this dust, rises a history lesson! Power shifts … always.

Super powers spread themselves too far and too thin. And there in the wings waits a contender. Lao Dynasties dominate in the early centuries. Then Myanmar’s Bagan rules South East Asia. Cambodia’s Angkor conquers them all in the 12th and 13th centuries. Next Thailand’s Ayuthaya reigns supreme. And then back to Myanmar and Mrauk U. Power shifts … always.

Here is a nice and tidy snapshot of my mind today.

power shifts

I hope the historians, amongst us (psst – Wendy), forgive my domestic zeal.

Here are Harry’s photos, squeaky clean of fact and figure. Just 3 or 4 or 5 of each dynasty. Except for Angkor! The greatest of ancient civilisations in South East Asia. Angkor bags 20 photos.

All in chronological order, of course.

 

An Iron Age Empire (Laos): 5th BC to 5th AD with its heyday in 5th AD century. Little is known about this civilisation. But its many Plains of Jars intrigue ….

In central Laos, near Phonosavan, there are the Plains of Jars. They date back to the Iron Age (500 BC to 500 AD).

In central Laos, near Phonosavan, there are the Plains of Jars. They date back to the Iron Age (500 BC to 500 AD).

 

There are thousands of jars clustered together at different sites. This is another site.

There are thousands of jars clustered together at different sites. This is another site.

 

It is believed the jars were used for burial purposes (holding cremated remains).

It is believed the jars were used for burial purposes (holding cremated remains).

 

Amidst these jars you see many craters felt by the bombs that fell during the Vietnam War. Huge craters - I provide an indication of scale.

Amidst these jars you see many craters felt by the bombs that fell during the Vietnam War. Huge craters – I provide an indication of scale.

 

The Wat Phou Empire (Laos): 6th to 9th AD with its heyday in 9th century.

In south Laos, near Champasak, is the World Heritage Site of Wat Phou. Temples, palaces, reserviors from a ruling dynasty - 6th to 12th centuries.

In south Laos, near Champasak, is the World Heritage Site of Wat Phou. Temples, palaces, reservoirs from a ruling dynasty – 6th to 12th centuries.

 

Perfect symmetry all the way from its heyday in the 8-9th century. The view from the top ... almost everything comes in two ...

Perfect symmetry all the way from its heyday in the 8-9th century. The view from the top … almost everything comes in two …

 

... here one of two palaces.

… here one of two palaces.

 

And this beautiful ancient stairway leads ...

And this beautiful ancient stairway leads …

 

... to this temple at the top. See the stone lintels and window frames!.

… to this temple at the top. See the stone lintels and window frames!

 

The Bagan Empire (Myanmar): 11th to 13th with its heyday in 12th century.

In central Myanmar, Bagan is the first capital of Burmese Kings. Here there are more than 4000 Buddhist temples from the 11 to 12th century.

In central Myanmar, Bagan is the first capital of Burmese Kings. Here there are more than 4000 Buddhist temples from the 11 to 12th century.

 

Some temples are grand ...

Some temples are grand …

 

...

 

And others less grand ... so you can still climb on top of them to watch the sunset.

And others less grand … so you can still climb on top of them to watch the sunset.

 

The Angkor Empire (Cambodia): 9th to 15th AD with it’s heyday in the 14th century. 

In west Cambodia, the world famous Angkor. Here a beautiful higgledy piggledy temple complex. See the many faces ...

In west Cambodia, the world famous Angkor. Here a beautiful higgledy piggledy temple complex. See the many faces …

 

... all the towers peak with the four faces of Hinduism.

… all the towers peak with the four faces of Hinduism.

 

And more formal complexes ... complete with temples, palaces, walled cities, irrigation systems ...

And more formal complexes … complete with temples, palaces, walled cities, irrigation systems …

 

...

 

The walls brag of warfare and conquest.

The walls brag of warfare and conquest.

 

And statues depict spiritual warfare ... the eternal tug of war between good (these guys) ...

And statues depict spiritual warfare … the eternal tug of war between good (these guys) …

 

... and evil (these guys). This tug of war carving is repeated often and is called ... the Churning of the Ocean of Milk ...

… and evil (these guys). This tug of war carving is repeated often and is called … the Churning of the Ocean of Milk …

 

Angkor is attacked and defeated by Thailand and abandoned to the jungle ...

Angkor is attacked and defeated by Thailand and abandoned to the jungle …

 

A French missionary discovers the ruins in 1872 ... parts of Angkor have been left as he found them way back then.

A French missionary discovers the ruins in 1872 … parts of Angkor have been left as he found them way back then.

 

...

 

...

 

Roots and trunks intermingle with stone and almost seem part of the structures now ...

Roots and trunks intermingle with stone and almost seem part of the structures now …

 

...

 

...

 

...

 

...

 

...

 

...

 

...

 

The Ayuthaya Empire (Thailand): 16th and 17th AD with its heyday in 17th century.

In Thailand, 80 km north of Bangkok, is Ayuthaya, created in 1351. By 1685 it has 1 million people, double the population of London at the time.

In Thailand, 80 km north of Bangkok, is Ayuthaya, created in 1351. By 1685 it has 1 million people, double the population of London at the time.

 

Ayuthaya has moats, channels and a river to the sea. It is very progressive. There are concession areas for all the main seafaring nations.

Ayuthaya has moats, channels and a river to the sea. It is very progressive. There are concession areas for all the main seafaring nations.

 

Ayuthaya is sacked by the Burmese (Myanmar) in 1767.

Ayuthaya is sacked by the Burmese (Myanmar) in 1767.

 

A famous shot ... a Buddha head, fallen off and trapped by the roots of the Boddhi tree (ironic - the same tree type under which he received enlightenment).

A famous shot … a Buddha head, fallen off and trapped by the roots of the Boddhi tree (ironic – the same tree type under which he received enlightenment).

 

The Mrauk U Empire (Myanmar): 17th and 18th AD with its heyday in 18th century. 

In west Myanmar is Mrauk U. Another dynasty, builds in the 17th century a temple complex. It has a free port and traders back then liken it to Venice.

In west Myanmar is Mrauk U. Another dynasty, builds in the 17th century a temple complex. It has a free port and traders back then liken it to Venice.

 

The amazing thing about Mrauk U is that the community still lives in and around the temples.

The amazing thing about Mrauk U is that the community still lives in and around the temples.

 

Here rice dries in the sun.

Here rice dries in the sun.

 

4 Responses to Power Shifts

  1. Jeff Botha

    Great overview of a little known region for me. Safe journey and look forward to the next instalment

  2. Jim and Muriel

    Again—-amazing facts and pictures—-most revealing—thank you !!

  3. Jan and Gail

    Yes: A wonderful composition. In fact you have a very tidy mind. Hstory however by nature, as you showed, is messy! Many Archeologists, Etnomologists or what ever other -ologists will never see what you and Harry have seen. The power of the jungle in these hot and humid climes is so impressive, seeing how it overpowers the works of man. Very interesting too for me, are the Burmese and Thai trading towns with access to the see and the concessions – defined areas where they could settle and trade – are fascinating. Were those from Europe i.e. Portuguese, Dutch, British and French all there, or only a few? May be the Chinese too and even other Asian people. One wonders. Once again THANK YOU! JAN

  4. Jan and Gail

    Wonderfully composed. I loved them all and in particular the power of the roots of the trees Gail

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