‘Built in the Bayon style under Jayavarman VII,’ the Terrace of the Leper King is located northwest of Angkor Wat’s Royal Square. The name, they say, is derived from a 15th century statue discovered on the site. I do not remember seeing such statue. If it still exists then I missed it. Next time I will do more than just snap pictures – pay enough attention to a guide to ask if something (I should have seen) was available for viewing.
Why Leper King?
The statue was called the “Leper King” because discoloration and moss growing on it was reminiscent of a person with leprosy, and also because it fit in with a Cambodian legend of an Angkorian king Yasovarman I who had leprosy. The name that the Cambodians know him by, however, is Dharmaraja, as this is what was etched at the bottom of the original statue. (Wikipedia)
Rows of statues behind the terrace are arranged like a little maze. Quiet. Eerily peaceful. Free from the scorching sun. The stone sculptures exhale oxygen moisturizing human skin. I spent more time wandering here than in any other part of the largest religious monument in the world.
The first association I know of leper or leprosy is that of the Bible. Miss Chiu, our second grade teacher would exclaim, ‘unclean! unclean!’ to explain to us eight year-olds that that was what lepers would shout to warn people of them. Today as I read around I realize that leprosy seems scarier than cancer or AIDS. But these lepers probably did not have to shout unclean…
1 John Early – soldier / USA (nation’s most famous leper)
2 Otani Yoshitsugu – lieutenant / Japan (…unification of Japan)
3 Nguyen Trong Tri – poet / Vietnam (lovers and crazy poetry)
4 Baldwin IV of Jerusalem – king / Israel (when you’re a rich leper)
5 Damien of Molokai – priest / Belgium, Hawaii (voluntary leper)
6 Alice of Schaerbeek – laysister / Belgium (hagiography bull****)
7 Miriam – prophetess / Israel (why was she punished so harshly?)
8 Joab – army commander / Israel (cursed for avenging someone)
9 Moses – (adopted) Egyptian prince (momentary leprosy)
10 Simon – meal host in Bethany (hair and perfume commotion)
11 Uzziah – king / Judah (if the incense is not your job…)
12 Naaman – army commander / Syria (go wash in the river)
13 Gehazi – servant / Israel (when you misuse your authority)