Deconstructing the Bas Reliefs of Angkor Wat. By S Vijay Kumar. May 4,2024

Scholars have described in detail the themes of the 13,000-odd sq feet of the larger reliefs and yet most visitors merely walk right past these magnificent reliefs after a quick mandatory selfie. Most are not aware of the smaller and more fascinating wall reliefs which are a testament to the skill and scholarship of the Khmer artists. For instance, the south-west and north-west pavilions contain representations of some rare episodes like the depiction of the abduction of Sita (not by Ravana), revelation of Krishna and Balarama's cosmic form to a charioteer (not to Arjuna), Khmer representation of Gatotkacha and many more images whose interpretations are still open for study and debate. Join S Vijay Kumar, Founder, India Pride Project for his talk "Deconstructing the Bas Reliefs of Angkor Wat", as he takes us on a walk around these marvelous masterpieces that the twelfth century Khmer emperor Suryavarman II had caused to be sculpted, depicting the puranas and itihasas from a far away India. Speaker: S Vijay Kumar, Founder, India Pride Project is a largely self-taught expert on Indian Temple sculpture and art. He started documenting his learning process in Tamil and English on a bilingual blogsite – – writing extensively on sculpture and art appreciation, introducing audiences to the nuances of our temple art. The site, with more than 300 posts, is non-commercial. He and his team of dedicated volunteers aim to document and build an online searchable archive of temple art on the internet. For the past sixteen years, Vijay has been instrumental in the tracking of trafficked Indian artefacts, working closely with various pan-global organisations assisting in their restitution efforts – including the return of the Vriddachalam Ardhanari, Sripurathan Nataraja, the Toledo Ganesha, the Ball state museum Alingana Murthy, the Kushan Buddha from the National Gallery of Australia, the Sripuranthan Uma from ACM Singapore, the Brahma Brahmani from Patan recovered from London. His background work led to several raids conducted by Home Land Security USA during the Asia week in NYC. He played a key role in uncovering the antiquities smuggling network of Subhash Kapoor and the USD 108 million seizure of 2622 objects in America, which is chronicled in his non-fiction book “The Idol Thief” published by Juggernaut Books. Vijay is a regular speaker and columnist for The Hindu, Times of India and other dailies. He also conducts free workshops to schools and colleges to encourage the next generation to take up an interest in Indian art.