Commander riding an elephant
The bas-relief shown in the image is part of the Procession of King Suryavarman II bas-relief. Read the Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs page for a detailed description of this and other bas-reliefs.
Standing majestically on top of the elephant is an army commander holding a shield with his left hand. Sitting in front of him is the mahout goading the elephant with an ankusha, which is a pointed tool with a hook used in India and Southeast Asia for controlling and training elephants. Both the commander and mahout are wearing kavachas, which are protective vests.
Notice the parasols surrounding the commander. There are seven in this bas-relief. The number of parasols indicates a commander’s rank. The king, who is the commander-in-chief, has fifteen in the bas-relief. Check this image.
Unlike the other bas-reliefs in Angkor Wat, the Procession of King Suryavarman II bas-relief is based on history. It depicts King Suryavarman II in a procession with his commanders, soldiers, courtiers and ordinary people.
The entire Procession of King Suryavarman II bas-relief covers the western section of the south gallery built on the perimeter of the lower level of the Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Check the Angkor Wat Temple Layout for the exact location of this bas-relief.
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