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ADB Lexicon



Update of our ongoing Lexicon of Angkor and Khmer civilization related terms.
Publication RF001
of Angkor-related architectural, cultural, historical and religious terms
Khmer (kh), Sanskrit (sk), Pali (pl), Chinese (ch), Laotian (la), Siamese (sm) Thai (ta), Theravada Khmer Term (trv)
Acharya (sk ‘He who knows the sacred writings kh ): knowledgeable person. In modern Cambodia,
the Achar assists the monks performing rituals for the community.
Adit (sk aditya): the sun.
Agni: the god of fire. Guardian of the Southeast.
Ahimsa: (sk 'harmlessness'): the ethic of non-violence adopted by many of the ascetics of North India to
counter the aggression of the new states.
Airavata, Ayravata, Airavana (kh : sacred elephant, vehicle of Indra, generally represented with
three heads. Also one of the elephants supporting the four quarters of the world.
Akusala: 'unskillful' or 'unhelpful' states, which will impede the quest for Enlightenment.
Alangkar (sk alamkara, kh  ): ornament, in a king's name.
Amitabha: Buddha of the higher spirit, represented on the headdress of bodhisattvas.
Amrita: elixir of life, the nectar of immortality created from the churning of the Ocean of Milk.
Anatta: 'No-Soul', the doctrine that denies the existence of a constant, stable and discrete personality.
Ananta: the multi-headed serpent on which Vishnu reclining during his withdrawal from the world. Also
called Cesha.
Anantasayin, Anantasayana (sk ´sleeping on the Ananta´): epithet of Vishnu when resting on Ananta.
Anastylosis: archeological method used in Java since 1903 by the Netherlands Indies Archeological
Service, by which ruined monuments were rebuilt by assembling the original stones one by one in their
original order. Applied by Henri Marchal to Angkorean structures in the 1920s and 1930s, and modified
by B.P. Groslier later, adding backup reinforced masonry behind the original construction.
Aňg, Ang (sk.) : body, member, manhood, Šiva’s linga, also a prince honorific title since the middle
Angada: the monkey warrior son of Valin.
Ang, Angka (sk anga, kh ): body, person. Preah Angka(kh : a king's name.
aňgar, Angkor (sk. Nagara, kh ): city, capital city, kingdom. Traditionally, Angkor Thom, ‘The Great
Angkor’ represents the former Khmer capital city, a group of monuments centered around the Bayon,
while Angkor Touch, ‘Small Angkor’, represents Angkor Wat. The word also exists in Khmer as nokor
Anjali (kh  ): grand salute’, dance motion-posture expressing reverence, devotion, adoration.
Anicca: the state of ‘impermanence’, constant and fleeting change.
Antarala (sk): a small corridor linking the god's shrine to the mandapa.
Antefix: pinnacle or other ornament that stands on a parapet. Also called Acroter.
Apsara (kh ): celestial dancer, portrayed dancing in the skies. These celestial water nymphs and
sacred dancers are often depicted as the consorts of the Gandharvas (celestial musicians).
Arahant (kh ): an 'Accomplished One,' who has attained Nibbana.
Arana (sk ‘place of stillness’): a garden dedicated to meditation.
Arcature: niche.
Ardhamandapa: shallow porch over a mandapa.
Areca palm (sk puga kh  ch 檳榔 fr aréquier): also known as ‘betel tree’, Areca catechu, in Khmer
flowered palm tree. Palms, flowers and nuts are often used in ancient and modern Khmer religious
Arjuna: central character in the Mahabarata, the king of the Haihayas, of the Pandava tribe. Pandu, his
real father, chose Indra as his 'godly' father. Also, the tree Terminalia Arjuna (arjun tree) symbolizing the
achievement of enlightenment in Theravada Buddhism.
Arogyasala (sk ‘sickness-free pavilion’, ‘health pavilion’, kh , , medical house ):
Ancient name of the hospitals built in Angkor and across the Khmer Empire, especially at the end of 12th
century, under the rule of Jayavarman VII.
Arthashastra (sk 'The Treatise on Profit'): probably written in the second century AD and attributed to
Kautilya, it expounds all aspects of practical action, including technology, economy, and public and
military administration.
Asana: the correct position for yogic meditation, with straight back and crossed legs.
Asrama, Ashram (sk): a kind of monastery or retreat to which men retire when they consider that their
active life is over, in order to prepare for their future existence. In ancient Angkor, the asrama, or
vidyasrama, or varnnasrama, were educational colleges with teachers were called adhyapaka, and
heads of association often called kulapati (cf. varnnasrama).
Ascetic: sage who practiced austerity.
Asura (sk): a class of 'demons-monsters', the devas' foremost enemies.
Atman: the eternal, unchangeable Self sought by the yogins, ascetics and followers of the Samkhya
philosophy. For the Upanisads, identical to brahman status.
Avalokiteshvara (sk 'The Lord who looks down'): the most famous of all bodhisattvas, also called
Lokeshvara. Pictured with four arms and carrying the amitabha (attributes) on his head-dress: a lotus, a
rosary, a bottle and a book.
Avatara, Avatar (sk 'descent'): the word is most frequently used to refer to the various incarnations of
Vishnu, as he descends to earth to save the world from some danger.
Avasa: rural settlements, often built from scratch each year by Buddhist monks for monsoon retreats.
Ayatana: successive meditative planes achieved by a really advanced yogin.
Ayodhaya, Ayodhya (sk a+yodhya, ‘not to be fought, invicible’): the capital of Ramayana’s Kosala
kingdom which was ruled by Dasharahta, Rarna's father. Currently a city of India’s Uttar Pradesh, with
an ongoing interfaith dispute (Hinduists and Muslims) over a sacred site.
Bhaisajyaguru (kh  ) : the Buddha of healing and medicine in Tantric Buddhist tradition.
Also called the Medicine Buddha. Often represented with two Bodhisattva, his representative disciples.
Balaha: the horse who saved the merchant Simhala and embodied one of the previous incarnations
of the Buddha.
Balang (kh ): pedestal.
Balarama: an avatar of Vishnu in human form, and Krishna's elder brother. He is portrayed holding a
Bali: a king of the demons. The green monkey (kh  ) in Ramayana tradition.
Baluster: a cylindrical column, often forming the 'rails' or windows.
Balustrade: railing or similar in which balusters are the uprights surmounted by a beam.
Bana: the asura who fought against Krishna. Son of Bali.
Banteay(kh  ): Khmer term for citadel, fortress or fortified palace.
Bantul(kh  ): Royal word or order.
Baray, Paray(old kh vrah anray, kh ): artificial reservoir enclosed by raising dams and/or dikes.
Rectangular and of varying dimensions, the largest one being the West Baray (kh ) at
Barmeisaur (sk parama + isvara): ‘The Sovereign’, honorific names of Siva, Brahma, and Vishnu.
Barom (sk parama): the supreme one, honorific name of a king.
Baromintea (sk paramendra): honorific name of a king.
Bat (sk pada, kh ): foot, in the name of kings.
Bayon, Pâyân(p Vejayanta, kh ): terrestrial replica of Indra’s palace ; name of the great
Jayavarman VII monument in Angkor Thom.
Bejayant (sk. vaijayanta, pl vejayanta): the celestial palace of Indra, the earthly replica of which being
Angkor Thom palace.
Beng (kh): a natural pond.
Bhikkhu: an 'almsman,' a mendicant monk who begs for his daily food; the feminine form is bhikkhuni,
Bhu (sk): the Earth goddess, a spouse of Vishnu. She is portrayed at Vishnu's feet as he sleeps on the
primeval ocean.
Bhnam, Phnom (old kh ) : hill, mountain, temple or sanctuary (cf. Phnom).
Bhnam Jïsur, Phnom Chisor (sk.) : name of a temple founded by Sûryavarman I (cf. Suryaparvata).
Bhnam Ruň, Phnom Rung (old kh ): ‘the large hill’; name of several temples, including the famous
Phnom Rung in modern Thailand.
Bhumisparsa Mudra: gesture of the Buddha, left hand in his lap, right one touching the ground.
Bimán, Pimean (sk.): Celestial chariot or palace, the abode of the Blessed Ones. Also Bimânâkâs,
Birun (sk varuna): name of a god.
Bishma: a son of Santanu and 'grandfather' of Kauravas.
Bisnukàr (sk.): Khmer name of the divine architect who erected sacred buildings on earth, in particular
Angkor and its Bayon.
Bisnulok (sk.): Khmer name of Angkor Wat since the middle period. (cf. Paramavisnuloka).
Blind Door or Window: while Khmer religious buildings usually open to the east, fake windows and
doors built on the other sides to ensure symmetry.
Bodhisattva (pl Bodhisatta): a man or woman called to obtain enlightenment but delaying it through
compassion for suffering beings. One in the process of becoming a Buddha. The Khmers were most
familiar with the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (or Lokeshvara).
Book (kh  siew pheu from ch 書簿 syu bu): Printed and bound books seem to have been
introduced in Cambodia from China, since the Khmer word has a direct Chinese origin.
Bopitr (sk pavitra): ‘The Pure One’, used in a king's name.
Brah Dharani: goddess of the Earth, who witnessed the Buddha's enlightenment.
Brah Go: ‘the God’s Bull’, in particular Nandin, Shiva’s mount. (cf. Pâgo).
Brah Indakosiy, Preah Enkosei (pl) : name of a temple with a modern monastery.
Brah Khan (sk jâyasrï), Preah Khan (old kh ) : the King’s sacred and victorious sword; name of a
temple founded by Jayavarman VII.
Brahma (sk): the creator-god of the Brahmin trinity. He was born from a lotus growing from Vishnu's
navel, and is portrayed with four faces looking out to the cardinal points. Mounted on the Hamsa (swan
or sacred bird.)
Brahmasariya: the holy life of chastity, the quest for enlightenment and liberation from pain.
Brahman: the fundamental, supreme and absolute principle of the cosmos in Vedic and Upanisadic
Brahmin: a member of the priestly caste in Aryan society, responsible for sacrifice and the transmission
of the Vedas.
Buddha (sk 'The Enlightened One' kh ): an enlightened or awakened person. The one who has
achieved ultimate wisdom. The founder of the Buddhist creed was Siddhartha Gautama, an Indian
prince living in the 6th to early 5th centuries BCE. In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, there are an
infinite number of Buddhas.
Capital Cities: the centers of power for the various theocratic or semi-theocratic kingdoms that raised
and disappeared in North Cambodia. Their historic sequencing has been established as follows: 1)
Indrapura (Jayavarman II, Thbong Khmom District) 2) Hariharalaya(kh  ) (Jayavarman II, in
the Roluos area) 3) Amrendrapura (Jayavarman II, West Baray area) 4) Mahendraparvata(kh 
) (Jayavarman II, Kulen Mountain) 4) Both Hariharalaya and Mahendraparvata (Jayavarman II, III) 5)
Extension of Hariharalaya to Indratataka, Bakong, Preah Ko (Indravarman I) 6) Yasodharapura (kh
) (Yasovarman I, Bakheng area) 7) Angkor Thom or Nokor Thom (Jayavarman VII). Prior to
Angkorian dynasties, there was also Isanapura, the Chenla capital city at Sambor Prei Kuk (kh 
) (Isanavarman I, Kompong Thom area).
Chakravartin: Indian royal title meaning 'universal sovereign'. Also Cakkavatti, the World Ruler who in
the Indian folkore would govern the whole universe and impose justice and righteousness by force.
Cham(kh ): the inhabitants of Champa, kingdom of the Hindu civilization on the southern coast of
contemporary Vietnam and Cambodia. The term also refers to the Malayo-Polynesian language spoken
there. In modern Cambodia, the Chams are an important minority embracing the Muslim faith, also
called ‘Khmer Islam’ (kh  ).
Champa (kh ): a country which existed along the coastal strip of what today is central Vietnam. It
consisted of several kingdoms sometimes united but often independent. There are many surviving
vestiges of the original Cham architecture. Champa was progressively conquered by the Vietnamese
from the 14th century onwards.
Chan (sk candra kh  ): the moon. Honorific in the name of a king or prince. Girl’s given name.
Chan (sk candana kh ): Santalum album, Indian sandalwood.
Chandaka: the Buddha's squire who accompanied him initially when he left the palace to seek
Chandrahasa (sk ‘the glittering scimitar’): Ravana's sword, which he received from Shiva.
Chara (sk): scout who also acted as a military spy.
Charaka Samhita (sk ‘wandering healer’s compendium’): the first treatise of Ayurvedic medicine,
compiled between 100 BCE and 200 CE. This sum of eight books and one hundred twenty chapters was
edited by Dridhabala in the 6th century. The treatise includes recommendations on nutrition, physical
exercise, sexual health and medical education. Along with the Susrutha Samhita, another ancient
medical treatise, it has inspired Khmer herbal medicine.
Chaturmukha (sk catur + mukha kh ): the four faces (for the four rivers), a name for Phnom
Chau (sm ‘chao’, lord): honorific title in the name of princes. Chau Fa, title of a high mandarin. Chau ku,
my master, name given to a monk.
Chedei(Sk saitya, kh ): reliquary, funeral monument, stupa.
chmur, -Chmar (kh ) : small, less important.
Cella: Inner part of a temple. This Latin word (or the Greek naos) is more often applied to Roman or
Greek structures, yet some archeologists use it while describing Southeast Asian temples.
Ceto-vimutti (sk ‘the release of the mind’): a synonym for enlightenment and the achievement of
Chenla, Zhenla (kh  ch 真腊): Chinese designation of a confederation of principalities upon
which reigned King Mahendravarman and his successor, Isanavarman I. Originally a province controlled
by the Funan rulers, Chenla conquered the Funan area around 627 CE.
Chestha (sk jyestha kh): the strongest, greatest, eldest, in the name of a king or prince.
Chey (sk jaya, kh ): ‘The Victorious’, in the name of a king or prince.
Chipor, Chivor(sk civara, kh , ): robe, priest's garb.
Chitralekha: Usha's friend.
Churning of the Ocean of Milk (sk samudra manthana kh ): one of India's greatest
myths. Desiring to secure their immortality, the gods churned the Ocean of Milk to generate amrita - the
elixir of eternal life. They turned the sacred mountain Mandara upside down and used it as a dasher,
and for a rope they used the serpent Vasuki. Vishnu incarnated himself as the turtle Kurma to serve as a
pivot at the base of the mountain. On Angkor Wat famous bas-relief, 88 asuras and 92 devas with
crested helmets are seen churning up the sea.
Citragupta: the record keeper of human deeds and misdeeds.
Colonette (fr ‘colonnette’): small column, usually decorative in Khmer architecture, standing at either
side of a doorway.
Corbel Arch: the technique of arched passageways used by Khmer builders, less sturdy than the true
Cornice (fr ‘corniche’): decorated projection that crowns or protects an architectural feature such as a
doorway. The cornice level is the one immediately above the lintels.
Damrei, Dombrei(kh  ): elephant.
Dasharatha: king of Kosala and father of Rama.
Davantaka: a rakasha warrior.
Deva (kh  tep): a deity. An inhabitant of the heavens, sometimes called ‘angel’. Like men, the deva
are created beings, but their faculties are more powerful and they live much longer.
Devadatta: envious cousin of the Buddha.
Devaputtas: flying male celestial beings.
Devaraja (sk 'god who is king'): the God King, the essence of royalty, supposed to reside in the royal
linga. Also, the divinity ruling the country. The Sanskrit word corresponds to the Old Khmer phrase
kamrateng jagat ta raja.
Devata, Tevoda (kh ): female deity. Often misnamed as apasara, celestial dancer.
Devi (sk ‘goddess’): title given to Parvati, wife of Shiva. Used as a suffix in Khmer queens’ names, i.e.
Dharana (sk 'concentration'): yogi term defining the process of internal visualization, during which the
yogin becomes conscious of his own consciousness.
Dharma: originally, the natural condition of things, their essence, the fundamental law of their
existence. By extension: religious truth, the doctrines and practices that make up a particular religious
Dharmasala (sk ‘house of fire’ kh  sala chhortien): shelter for the free use of wayfarers or
pilgrims, still a feature of Khmer villages. Originally, the fire shrine was used to safeguard the Sacred
Fire which was always carried in procession by troops on their campaigns and by the retinue of kings on
royal progresses. They are often of laterite or sandstone.
Dhyana Mudra: meditative posture of the Buddha with hands crossed in the lap.
Doem(kh ): plant, trunk.
Dvarapala: A guardian of the temple (deva or asura), mainly found at the entrances.
Durga (sk 'The Unapproachable'): name of a goddess of terrifying aspect, sometimes characterized as
one of the spouses of Shiva. She is however often venerated as a separate deity in her own right,
notably as Mahishasuramardini, 'She who crushed the asura Mahisha'.
Dukkha (sk 'flawed, unsatisfactory’): the suffering inherent to human condition. The Pali canon defines
no less than thirteen forms of ‘dukkha’, from the physical strain inflicted by natural causes to the
spiritual ‘unease’ of the one fighting his or her negative pulsions.
Duol, Tuol (old kh ): hillock, mound.
Dham, Thom (kh ): large, imposing, awesome.
Face-Tower (kh  ´tower with 4 faces´) : tower with four faces, the “artistic revolution”,
“invention with no past nor future bridging sculpture and architecture” in Khmer temples from the 9th
until the 13th century”, according to George Groslier. Held as the apex of Tantric Buddhism architecture.
Faux vaulting: the stones of opposite terraced wall sections that reach each other at the apex.
Ficus Religiosa (kh  doem por): sacred tree in Buddhism.
Funan(kh  , ch 扶南): name of a compound of Indianized states preceding the Angkorian
kingdom, on the coast of modern Cambodia and Vietnam. First conquered by Chenla’s King Isanavarman
I around 627 CE. It has been interpreted as a Chinese transliteration of the Khmer word ‘Phnom,
mountain. Also known as Nokor Phnom (kh  ‘Mountain Kingdom’) in Khmer.
Gajasimha: lion with a snout.
Gambhireshvara (sk 'Lord of the Depths'): one of Shiva's many names.
Ganesha, Ganesh, Ganapati: (sk ‘Lord of obstacles’): Shiva's son, the fat-bellied elephant-headed god
with a broken tusk. An important deity in the everyday lives of the people, since he is also the god of
intelligence. According to one tradition, Shiva had beheaded his son by mistake; upon realizing his error,
he could only save his son's life by quickly using the head of a nearby elephant.
Ganga: one of the wives of Shiva, goddess of the Ganges River.
Garuda (sk, kh   krut): a mythical being, half-man, half-bird, enemy of the nagas. Garudas are often
portrayed on Khmer monuments as telamons, holding up the world of the gods, and nowadays
supporting the pagoda roofs. As a proper noun, Garuda is the name of the 'vehicle' of the god Vishnu.
Garbhaghra (sk ‘womb house’): inner chamber of a shrine. In a Khmer sanctuary, it is usually a square
Gautama (fr Gotacma): original name of the ‘historic’ Buddha.
Ghlâmn, Khleang (dravidian) : storage place, hole housing precious artifacts in a temple ; outbuilding of
a larger temple.
Giants (kh  yeakan imaginary or mythical being of human form but superhuman size.
Gopura (hybrid of sk and tamil, from tamil gopuram according to Saveros Pou): the entrance pavilion or
gateway to an Indian or Khmer temple. Often topped with a tower.
Govardhana (sk): the mythical mountain lifted up by Krishna to safeguard his shepherds and flocks who
were threatened by the furious storm unleashed by Indra.
Guhâ, Kohéa, Kohe (sk.): grotto, hole, inner part of a smaller temple, or a smaller temple itself.
Guk, Kuk (from ch ) : jail, cell, round cavity in the ground for ritualistic or domestic purposes; inner
part of a smaller temple; name given to smaller Khmer temples.
Gupta: a dynasty which ruled northern India in the fourth and fifth centuries. Also, the period which saw
the development of one of the finest styles of Indian sculpture, named after that dynasty. Gupta style
had a profound influence on the early art forms of Indianized Southeast Asia.
Guru (sk kh ): 'master', especially as 'spiritual guide'.
Hamsa: sacred goose, the mount of Brahma.
Hanuman(kh ): ‘The White Monkey (kh  ), chief of the monkey army in the Ramayana
Harihara: a god unifying in the same figure Hari (Vishnu) and Hara (Shiva).
Hevajra: Tantric divinity.
Hinayana (sk 'The Lesser Path'): a name given by Mahayana Buddhists to one of the two main Buddhist
traditions, Theravada Buddhism. Also know as 'the little vehicle' as opposed to the Mahayana, 'the
Great Path'. It is preferable to use the term Theravada.
Iévarapura (sk.) : ancient name of the Banteay Srei Temple site.
Iddhi: The dominion of spirit over matter; the miraculous powers supposedly bestowed by proficiency in
yoga, e.g. levitation or the ability to change shape at will.
Ihana (sk dhyana): a yogic trance happening in four distinct stages.
Iina: a conqueror, honorary title of Buddha.
Isur (sk) : ‘The Almighty’, name of Shiva in ancient Cambodia.
Indra (sk, pl Inda or Sakka): 'king' of the gods, most often portrayed astride his 'vehicle', the three-
headed elephant Airavata. Indra is the god of extreme weather, causing torrential rains. He is also the
'Regent of the East'. Also ‘Mahendra’, the great Indra.
Indraprasth, Intoprasth, Indiprasth, Entrapah (sk Indra + prastha): name of the terrestrial realm of Indra
and of its capital city. As Indapatth, Entabat, pali name designing Angkor as built by Bisnukàr as
instructed by Indra, and by extension medieval Cambodia.
Indresvara (sk) : former name of the Bakong temple, from its founder Indravarman I.
Indriya (pl): faculty, capacity.
Isanapura (Kh: ): capital city built by King Isanavarman I (7th century, kh  , pre-
angkorian kh , also known as Ksatriya Isana) as the center of the Chenla (kh )
confederation of principalities.
Isar, Içar, Eisaur, Issur (Sk isvara): Lord, attribute of Shiva.
Jataka (sk and pali birth): important collection of tales and stories related to Gautama Buddha’s
previous births and lives. Part of the collection are the Mahanipata Jataka (kh  tousak
cheadok), The Ten Great Birth Stories of the Buddha.
Jaya (kh ): ‘The Victorious’.
Jomneang Pteas (kh ): the female spirit of house.
Jayasrt (sk): the royal attributes, in particular the sacred sword (cf. brah khan).
Kabandha: asura (demon) slain by Rama.
Kailasa: sacred mountain, abode of Shiva.
Kala: face commonly appearing over doorways, perhaps representing Rahu.
Kalanemi: an asura enemy of the gods.
Kaliya: naga wounded by Krishna.
Kalpa: a cycle of time.
Kama: god of love.
Kambu (sk kamboja kh ): A 10th century Khmer inscription states that the Indian hermit Kambu
Swayambhuva and the celestial nymph Mera united, thus establishing the Cambodian royal dynasty
(Kambu-Mera), that begins with the Chenla ruler Srutavarman and his son Sreshthavarman. In the
Vedic tradition, Kambu Swayambhuva was the ancestor of the Indian Kambuja tribe and king of
Kampuchea, Kambuja (sk kambuja, kh  ): name of the people and country before the Chenla and
Funan kingdoms. The ancient name for Cambodia, lit. 'offspring of Kambu’, the country's mythical
Kamrateng jagat ta raja (kh    ): 'the god who is king', reigning over all the local
divinities, whether that of a kingdom or the deity of the whole Khmer empire. According to other
interpretations, celestial equivalent of the earthly king.
Kamsa: uncle of Krishna who attempted to kill him when he was young.
Kanaka: king of Mithila, father of Sita.
Kandha (pl ‘heap’, ‘lump’): the five constituents of human condition in the Buddhist concept of anatta:
body, feelings, perception, volition and consciousness.
Kandrajit: son of Ravana.
Kanloň (old kh): cavity, chamber, inner part of a small temple ; the temple itself; treasure kept in a
temple; archives.
Katayus: the king of vultures.
Kanthaka (kh  ): the Buddha's horse.
Kantuy Krapoe (kh  ): Aquilaria Aloexyle, aloes wood. The Khmer name means ‘crocodile
Karma (sk karman pl Kamma kh  kam): actions or deeds which determine one being's subsequent
Kaundinya (pl kondañña chhun tein): the first Indian prince to set foot in Cambodia, according to an oral
and written tradition. Smitten by the daughter of the Naga King whom he saw dancing on the sand, he
married her (Neang Neak) and the Khmer people are their offspring. Eponym of a famous brahmin
among the first disciples of Gautama Buddha, or perhaps his reincarnation. See also Preah Thaong.
Kauravas: the tribe who fought the Pandavas.
Kavindrarimathana (kh
  ): a Buddhist minister of King Rajendravarman, in charge of
the construction of several temples around Angkor in the 10th century. He is the only “architect” namely
mentioned in inscriptions that have come to our knowledge.
Kbach (kh ): decorative elements in Cambodian architecture and sculpture, mostly inspired by
natural motives (flowers, etc…). Also, in Khmer classical dance, any dance gesture, distinct style or
rhythm: Kbach Rongvoel (kh )‘slow, Kbach Banchos(kh  ) ‘fast, Kbach Lea(kh
) ‘farewell, Kbach Choet(kh ) ‘flying’, Kbach Smeu(kh  ) ‘entering and
leaving, Kbach Mul(kh  ) ‘gods’ round dance.
Kdei Ang, Ktî aňg: a linga sanctuary (cf. aňg).
Keo Fiy: title of the king's eldest son.
Ker (kh  ): glory.
Ketu: a monster who creates comets and meteors, born from the tail of Rahu.
Ketumâlâ (sk.): in medieval Angkor, name of the legendary first sovereign of the city erected by Bisnukàr
as instructed by Indra.
Khandha (sk 'heaps, bundles, lumps'): the constituents of the human personality in the Buddha's theory
of anatta, The five 'heaps' are body, feelings, perception, volition and consciousness.
Khnar (old kh  ) : protection, protective ; qui protège ; outer walls of a town or a temple.
Khmer or Angkorian Architecture (kh  ): architectural styles and techniques developed
by the Khmer people from the 8th to the 15th centuries, with three main building materials: bricks,
laterite and sandstone.
Khnyum (kh   khnyom bomrer): slave, especially 'slave of the gods' when in temple service.
Kinnara, Kinnari (sk, kh  kenor): male and female flying demiurges often depicted as a frieze of
winged human figures, as at Banteay Chhmar(kh   ). In Indian art, they are shown as winged
horses. In Cambodia’s Reamker, they often appear in dance tableaux.
Kiyr (sk kara): act, deed.
Kiratas: hunters.
Kok (kh : numerous.
Koh (kh ): island.
Koh Ker, Koh Ker (old kh gargyar
 ) : the Hopea odorata (Dipter.) tree; according to Saveros Pou,
derivative name given to the group of temples erected by Jayavarma IV northeast of Angkor.
Kolthida (kh ): Khmer proper name, meaning "daughter of a respectable family".
Kompong, Kampong(kh ): bank of a river. Riverside town or village.
Komsan (kh ): relaxing time, rest.
Kosal (): Khmer proper name, meaning "good deed".
Kosala: the legendary kingdom in Ramayana epic.
Kosiy (p): alternative name for the Buddhist Indra, present in scriptures and folktales.
Kravann (kh ): "cardamom" in Khmer.
Krei, Krei Sneung(kh ,  ): bed, palanquin, movable litter sometimes shaded with awning.
Kresna(kh ): Aquilaria Agallocha, eagle wood.
Krishna (sk): the eighth and best-known of Vishnu's avatara, Krishna is a god who has many human
adventures. In the Mahabharata, he is the one who recites the great Hindu devotional poem, the
Krong, Kurung(kh  ): king, capital city, kingdom. Kurung was the title used by the kings of the
Angkor period to refer to previous Khmer monarchs.
Kru (kh ): teacher.
Kru Baramey (kh , Rub , Memot ): someone who acts a medium between human
beings and spirits, helping to connect and communicate with each other.
Ksatriya: The caste of warriors, noblemen and aristocrats responsible in Aryan society for government
and defense.
Ktî, Kuti, Kdei (sk.) : monastic cell, in particular in Buddhist monasteries ; a niche in a temple; a smaller
Kubera: Lord of Wealth, Men and Genii. Guardian of the North.
Kukkucca (pl): remorse, afterthought after doing something negative or missing the opportunity of a
good deed.
Kumbha: rakshasa, son of Kumbhakarna.
Kumbhakarna: rakshasa, brother of Ravana who attempts to kill Rama.
Kuoy (kh ): an ethnic group speaking a language related to Khmer and living mainly in the region of
Kompong Svay, some 90 kilometers east of Angkor. They specialized in ironwork.
Kumpeak (kh ): "February" in Khmer.
Kulapati (sk, kh XX): head of a learning association, or asrama, in Ancient Angkor.
Kurma: king of tortoises, one of the avatars of Vishnu.
Kusala: The 'skillful' or 'helpful' states of mind and heart that Buddhists should cultivate in order to
achieve enlightenment.
Lakhon, Lokhon (kh  ): Khmer ceremonial dance dating back to the reign of Jayavarman II, Angkor
sovereign also named Preah Ket Mealea or Paramesvara.
Lakshmana: one of Rama's brothers and his chief companion in his exile and battles.
Lakshmi (sk): spouse of Vishnu, the goddess of beauty, fortune and wealth. She automatically became a
'wife' of the Khmer kings when they accessed to the throne.
Lanka, Langka(kh  ):kingdom ruled by Ravana, a rival of Rama.
Laterite: porous, reddish, easily extracted rock containing iron.
Leap (kh ): "good luck, success".
Li (ch ): a unit of length which varied over time. In the third century AD it is estimated to have measured
about 375 meters, whereas Beal, in his translation of the early fifth century 'Pilgrimage to India' of the
Chinese Buddhist, Fah Hian, calculates it as circa 322 meters.
'Libraries'(sk granthalaya, kh   ‘bandaly’): structures separated from the main buildings,
usually found in pairs in front of the main entrance leading to the temple to a yard. More probably
shrines than storage places for sacred texts, they almost always open to the west. It seems that these
structures served, at least partly, as 'Fire shrines'. Also called ‘Thormatrai’ (probably from ‘hotrai’ in
Lintel: stone or masonry block bridging two entrance pillars, either structural or purely decorative
element. The structural lintel is the load-bearing upper member of a stone doorframe, usually
concealed for the most part.
Linga, Lingam: phallus symbol representing the procreative essence of Shiva. Adopted by the Khmer
kings as the palladian of the kingdom.
Linga (sk): an icon in the shape of a stylized phallus, worshipped as a deity symbolizing Shiva but also as
the pillar which shores up the earth.
Lingaparvata (sk 'the mountain of the linga'): the sacred mountain at Wat Phu (modern Laos).
Lok (Sk loka, Kh ): man, lord. In modern Khmer, ‘Mister’ or ‘Sir’, or priest.
Lokapalas: guardians of the cardinal directions.
Lokeshvara: another name for Avalokitesvara, preferred by the Khmers.
Lokeshvara (sk 'Lord of the World'): an alternative name for the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.
Lolei, Lalây (sk. hariharâlaya): the abode of Harihara ; name of one of Jayavarman II’s capital city;
current name of the Lolei Temple.
Mahabharata (sk): one of the great Indian epic poems. Its 120,000 stanzas contain a myriad of different
tales but the main theme is the power struggle between the five Pandava brothers and their cousins the
Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī (pl, sk Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī): the Buddha’s adoptive mother and first
Mahaparinirvana: attainment of extinction of the self and cessation of the cycle or becoming.
Maharajadhiraja (sk 'Supreme King of Kings'): title first adopted by Jayavarman II in 802 AD and used by
all subsequent Khmer kings.
Mahayana (sk 'The Great Path'): in Buddhism, it contrasts with Hinayana’ (Theravada) code which
preceded it historically. Mahayana is a development of the Buddhist creed in which the Buddha and the
Bodhisattvas are venerated with rituals which are close to those of Hinduism.
Mahendra (sk ma+Indra): ‘the great Indra’.
Mahii, Mohii (sk, pl): great.
Mahiparvata: sacred mountain.
Mahishi (sk 'cow-buffalo'): the enigmatic title given in some inscriptions to refer to the senior wife of the
Khmer king.
Mahout (sk 'Mahamatra', ta Kwan Chang): the man who drives the elephant.
Mahunagar (sk.): ‘The Great City’, name given to the Angkor group.
Makara (skkh ): crocodile (or fish-based composite monster), sometimes characterized as the
'vehicle' of Varuna, god of the oceans. Sculptural motive largely present at Banteay Srei.
Mandapa (sk): antechamber, pavilion preceding the temple's main shrine, sometimes connected to it via
the antarala passageway. In Shiva temples it may house the god's 'vehicle' - the bull Nandi.
Mandara: mythological mountain of the gods, the king of mountains at the center of the Ocean.
Mandîr (sk.): palace, prince’s residence, or large public building.
Mara: the god who rules over the world of desire, enemy of the Buddha.
Mariea: the demon transformed into a deer or gazelle to distract Rama.
Mayavati: the reincarnation of Rati, the wife of Kama.
Mebon (kh ): Ceremonial place, always built as an artificial island in the center of a water
Meru, Mount Meru (kh ): in the Hindu worldview, the center of the universe, home of the
gods. This mountain of Indian cosmology has five peaks, hence the five towers of Angkor Wat.
Mesa (kh ): the month of April.
Methea (sk medhii): wisdom.
Metreypheap (kh ): Female Khmer proper name, meaning "friendliness".
Metrey, Maitreya (sk maitreya kh ): name of a famous bodhisattva.
Minea (kh ): the month of March.
Mitona (kh ): the month of June.
Mitthapeap (kh ): Khmer proper name, meaning "friendship".
Modaka: a sort of sweetmeat favored by Ganesha.
Mohodara: a rakshasa from the Battle of Lanka.
Mokot(sk mukkuta kh  ): conical head-dress worn by the apsaras. Crown, tiara.
Mon (pl ramanna kh ): large ethnic group initially inhabiting parts of modern Burma and Thailand.
Mon-Khmer (kh -) is a linguistic group of Austroasiatic languages.
Monorom (kh ): Male Khmer proper name, meaning "delightful".
Montrei (pl, sk Mantrin, kh ): minister, or some sort of high-ranking office. Via the Portuguese
language, it gave the Western idioms the word 'mandarin'.
Mony (kh , ): Khmer proper name, from ("precious stone") or ("scholar").
Muchalinda: The naga king who sheltered the Buddha while he meditated.
Mudra: hand or body gesture.
Muka: a demon.
Naga (sk naga, kh ): mythical serpent-guardians of the nether regions and eternal foes of the
garuda. The most prominent enjoy semi-divine status such as Shesha, companion of Vishnu, and Vasuki
who acts as the rope in the Churning of the Milk Ocean. Ubiquitous in Khmer art, the naga is portrayed
as a cobra with five or seven heads. Their female equivalents are the nagi (water-nymphs with human
bodies and snake-tails).
Nagar (sk): city, kingdom. Nagara: Angkor.
Nalgiri: mad elephant sent to kill the Buddha by his jealous cousin.
Nandi: the sacred bull of Shiva.
Naraka: a demon slain by Indra.
Narantaka: one of Ravana's sons.
Navagraha (sk “nine celestial bodies of the Universe”): the nine celestial bodies-deities in Hindu
astrology: Surya or Ravi (the Sun), Chandra or Soma (the Moon) Mangala (Mars), Budha or Budh
(Mercury), Dev Guru or Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Shani (Saturn) Rahu (Ascending Lunar
node), Ketu (Descending Lunar node).
Nbom (pl): name of a prince.
Neak (kh ): human being. Anak sanjak (men) seems to be a specific term to describe some sort of
'royal praetorian guard'. Angkorian kings’ female guards are called in Khmer   (chhman srei).
Neak-ta(kh ): local deities associated with particular places.
Neang Neak (sk soma ch liuye kh ): in Khmer mythology, the daughter of the King of the Nagas
whose union with Preah Thaong (Kaundinya) gave birth to Cambodia. According to Chinese chronicles,
as Queen Soma or Liu Yeh in Chinese, she was the first ruler of Funan.
Nikumba: rakshasa son of Kumbhakarna.
Nikaya: 'Collections' of discourses in the Pali Canon.
Nilaphat: the monkey general of Sugriva's army. ‘Black Monkey’ (kh   ) in the Reamker.
Nirrti(Kh ): god of misery, guardian of the Southwest.
Niyamas: The bodily and psychological disciplines which are a prerequisite for yogic meditation.
Nokor(sk nagara kh ): town, royal town, Angkor.
Obareach, Oppariij (sk upa+riija kh ): title of the elder brother of the king, or second king.
Oknea, Oknya (sk ukna, kh ): title of a grandee.
Oksakphear (kh ): the month of May.
Omreth (kh ): "immortal”.
Ongkiir, Ongkara (sk om + kiira): sacred word, royal order.
Ong, Ang (sk ‘oil’): title of a grandee.
Outey (sk udaya, kh ): sunrise, name of a king or prince.
Pa (sk Pii, kh  ): father.
Pabbajja: 'Going Forth', the act of renouncing the world in order to live the holy life of a monk. Later,
the first step in Buddhist ordination.
Pachem (kh  ): west.
Pâgan, Bakong (old kh vakori ): species of lily, Crinum asiaticum (Amaryll.); ancient name given
posthumously to the Indresvara temple, found by Indravarman I.
Pâgo, Bako (kh): Shiva’s bull, Nandin ; name given to the Bako temple.
Pákhaeň, Bakheng (kh brah khaeň) : sacred manhood, Shiva’s linga ; name given to the temple
founded by Yasovarman I, Yasodhareévara (sk) or Vnam Kantal (old kh).
Palanquin (sk palyanka, pl pallanko, 16th century Portuguese palanquim): couch, litter carried on
shoulders or domesticated animals
Pali (kh ): best-known among a group of Indian languages known as the Prakrits, pali is the
religious language in the canon of Theravada Buddhist scriptures used in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.
Palmette (fr palmette): a motif in decorative art resembling the fan-shaped leaves of a palm tree.
Pandava: found in the name of a king; also the name of Srei Santhor.
Pandavas: the tribe who fought the Kauravas in the Battle of Kurukshetra.
Pandày, Banteay (kh ): outer wall, fortification, fortress, military barracks. For instance in
Banteay Kdei.
Pandita, Pandit (sk): sage, man of letters.
Pandu: father of Arjuna, head of the Pandava tribe.
Panha (pl pañña kh ): knowledge, wisdom.
Parashurama (sk 'Rama with an axe'): Vishnu's sixth avatara and the brother of Rama and Balarama. He
descended to earth to put an end to the oppression of the Kshatrya (the 'nobles' caste). His weapon is
the axe, a gift from Shiva.
Paramavisnuloka (sk.): posthumous name of Suryavarman II, founder of Angkor Wat then named
Parinibbana: the 'Final Nibbana', the ultimate rest of an enlightened person achieved at death, since he
or she will not be reborn into another existence.
Parvati (sk 'She from the mountains'): daughter of Himavan, god of the Himalayas, Parvati, also known
as Uma or Devi, is Shiva's main consort.
Patimokkha (pl pati ´protect´+ mokkha ‘liberation’): Summary in form of 227 rules of the Vinaya, the
Theravada canon. Also, a ceremony whereby the early monks came together every six years to recite the
Buddhist Dhamma; later, after the Buddha's death, this became a recitation of the monastic rule of the
Order and a confession of transgressions, which was held once a fortnight.
Pancha Yatana: in Hindu religious architecture, a temple with a main central sanctuary surrounded by
four other shrines and connected to them by cloisters.
Pediment (fr ‘fronton’): triangular structure above a lintel, the external, decorated surface of which is
called tympanum.
Phalla (kh , sk. Phala): fruit.
Phanet (kh ): sugarcane.
Pheakdei (kh ): devotion, respect, loyalty.
Phkeak (kh. ): a billhook, characteristic Khmer weapon, long handled club with two blades inserted
at an angle.
Phnom (kh ): mountain, hill, hillock.
Phum (kh ): village.
Pilaster: square- or rectangular-sectioned pillar that is actually engaged in the wall, becoming a
Pinda (sk): ball of rice offered to the ancestors.
Piň Mâlâ, Beng Méaléa: derivative name of a temple east of Angkor.
Plauv, Plu, Pleuh (or Thnal) (kh  ): road or street in modern Khmer -, Old Khmer term ascribed to the
royal roads leading from Angkor to other parts of the Khmer Empire, such as Pimai to the north-west
and Wat Phu to the north-east.
Ponhea, Pnhea (kh ): princely title, referring to pre-Angkorian times.
Portico: a columned hall at the entrance of a building.
Pradakshina (sk): ritual circumambulation of a temple or statue, in India and Southeast Asia, always
keeping the venerated object to one's right.
Pradymna: son of Krishna and Rukmini, the goddess of fortune.
Prahasiteshvara: (sk 'The Smiling Lord'): one of Shiva's many names.
Prajnaparamita (sk ‘prajna’ (wisdom) ‘paramita’ (perfection), kh  ): the ‘Perfection of
Wisdom’, a collection of some 40 sutras considering the transcendent wisdom and its personification as
‘God Mother’. Among the oldest known Mahayana sutras. Prajnaparamita was revered as a goddess.
The Ta Prohm temple near Angkor Wat is dedicated to her, and her representation there is believed to
reproduce the facial traits of Jayaraçudamani, Jayavarman VII’s mother.
Prajiiaparamita: the female version of the bodhisattva.
Prajnyaparamita (sk 'Perfection of Insight'): the female personification of the Bodhisattva's qualities.
Praktri: Nature, the natural world.
Pralamba: a mystic mountain.
Prali: roof finial.
Pranayama: the breathing exercises of yoga, which induce a state of trance and well-being.
Prang (kh  ta prang): tall spire, usually intrically carved, characteristic of Khmer devotional
architecture. With its many niches ornated with devotional statues, the prang is characteristic of the rise
of Theravada Buddhism in the Angkorean sphere. Several prasats (Brahmanic temples) have been
modified into prangs in the last centuries of the Angkorean era (end of 12th-15th centuries). Also, a large
Prasat (sk prasada kh): sancturary or palace in form of a tower, architectural style from South
India widespread around Southeast Asia. Prasat Andet (syn. Biman) is the temple or palace floating in
the air. Prasat Krol Ko (temple-stables) is the name of a smaller temple northeast of the Bayon,
reputedly having housed the sacred bull, first guardian of Angkor.
Prasathani (sk raja + dhani): royal town, in the name of a king.
Prasavya: a funerary rite.
Prataw (kh ): to teach, to discipline.
Pratyahara: in yoga, a 'withdrawal of the senses,' the ability to contemplate an object with the intellect
Preah, Prah, Pra(kh ): pertaining to anything sacred, holy. As a noun, associated to ‘Put’ in ‘Preah
Put’, the Buddha’s name in Khmer.
Preah Ket Maelea (kh ): ‘Blossoming Light’, name given to the first sovereign of Angkor,
Jayavarman II who, according to a Khmer legend, was sired when Indra let drop a ‘rain of flowers’ over
the body of his childless mother, fecundating her.
Preah Noreay (sk niiriiyana kh ): name of Vishnu(kh
), a king or a prince.
Preah Thaong (kh  ‘the Prince of Faraway Land’): In some Khmer traditions, name of an Indian
prince who came to a new land called Chroy Sovannapumi (kh   Cape of The Golden
Coast’), Kampuchea or Cambodia), which was originally known as ‘Norkor Kok Tlok
(kh  ‘Kingdom of the Dry Tlok Tree’).
Prè Rup, Praeh Rup (kh  ) : funerary ritual aimed at recreating the form (rup) of the deceased with
his or her ashes after cremation; name given posthumously to the monument erected by
Râjendravarma, probably in tribute to his ancestor Visvarûpa.
Proh(kh  ): man.
Prolang (kh ): soul or spirit(according to Cambodian tradition there are 19 major and minor souls
which inhabit the human body).
Puri, Borey (sk) (kh  ): space enclosed by a fence or outer walls, by extension a village, a small town or
a fortified temple.
Purohita (sk 'superintendent'): the king's closest assistant. Also, the brahmin priest in charge of royal
Purusa: The Absolute Spirit that pervades all beings in the philosophy of Samkhya.
Put (sk buddha kh ): the Buddha.
Quincunx: architectural arrangement of five objects in which four occupy the corners and the fifth the
centre. Also Pancha Yatana.
Rahu(kh ): mythical demon said to cause eclipses of the sun or moon by eating it, assuming the
shape of a meteor.
Raja (sk 'King', kh ): as used by the Khmers, it refers to a minor potentate.
Rajaputra (sk 'king's son'): used to designate the male offspring of the supreme king as well as that of
other royal lineages.
Rajahota: royal priest.
Rajalalisatana: a way of sitting with one knee propped up, used mainly by princely people.
Rakshasa: demon.
Rakshini: female rakshasa, demoness.
Rama (kh  Ream): the seventh and one of the best known of Vishnu's avatara.
Ramayana (sk kh ‘Reamker ): Major Indian epic poem which remains very popular in Southeast
Asia, narrates the adventures of Rama and his spouse Sita whose kidnapping by the demon Ravana and
imprisonment in (Sri) Lanka sparks a ferocious war with Rama and his monkey army commanded by its
semi-divine general, Hanuman. Generally attributed to Maharisi Valmiki (‘Adi Kavi’, ‘the first poet’), it is
one of the two major Sanskrit epics with the Mahābhārata.
Rambha: a nymph with whom Viradha fell in love.
Rapala: guardian deities of doors and entrance ways.
Ravana: the demon king of Langka. As a powerful demon-king he is depicted with six, eight or ten heads
and twelve, sixteen or twenty arms. Brahma had granted him immunity from the gods but he had been
too proud to ask also for immunity from men and animals. This was to prove his downfall, dramatically
narrated in the Ramayana epic.
Rattha (pl rattha, sk rastea, kh ): country, land, kingdom.
Reach, Reachea (sk raja, kh , ): kingdom, king.
Reamea (sk rama kh ): Rama. Also, name of a king or prince.
Reamker, Ramakerti (kh  , ‘the glory of Rama’): Khmer version of the Ramayana epic.
Redenting: architectural treatment of a structure in plan whereby the corners are indented (cut back)
into successive right angles.
Rig Veda: collection of sacrificial hymns dedicated to a pantheon of gods, composed from 1200 BCE.
Rishi: a great sage or illuminated being.
Roloeng (kh : uprooted.
Rolung (sk ralun): grand, imposing. In Khmer, the suffix run, -rung (khm.) means ‘large’, ‘high’,
Roluos (kh ) : the Erythrina indica tree, coral or butterfly tree, present in Indra’s paradise; name of
the historic site including Bako, Bakong and Lolei.
Rudra: a Vedic god from the Rig Veda.
Rup (pl rupa sk riipa kh ): form, shape.
Ryodhalla: the wicked eldest son of King Ritarashtra who precipitated a major battle with Bhima.
Sabha (sk): The general word for an assembly, of whatever nature.
Sacred Furrow (kh ): an annual Khmer ceremony in which the monarch ploughs the
first furrow to bless and symbolise the beginning of the paddy-sowing season. The rite is also performed
in India.
Sak (sk sakti, kh  ): rank, honor.
Saka: the Indian era most commonly used in the inscriptions, preceding the Christian era by 78 years.
Sakhi (sk sakha): monk. Also from sk saktisiddhi, ‘endowed with spiritual power’.
Sakra: the wheel of the Buddha, signifying immortality and power.
Sakti: the female consorts or feminine energy of the Hindu pantheon.
Sakyamiini: 'The Sage of the Republic of Sakka,' a title given to the Buddha.
Samiidhi: yogic concentration; meditation; one of the components of the Eightfold Path to
Samkhya (sk 'discrimination'): a philosophy, akin to yoga, which was first preached by the sage Kapila in
the 7th century BCE.
Samdach, Sdach (kh ,  ): powerful, power holder. Royal title preceding the name of a
dignitary or eminent person.
Sampati: The vulture brother of Jatayus.
Samphea (kh ): salutation, for instance in ‘Pithi Samphea Kru’, the salutation to the dance masters
before a performance.
Sampot (kh ): short skirt worn around the waist. Also sarong.
Sampur, Sambor (sk): derivative from Šambhupura, Shiva’s city.
Sampur vrai kuk, Sambor Prei Kuk: name of the pre-Angkorean temple, derivative from Isanapura,
Isanavarman I’s capital city.
Samsara (sk 'Keeping going'): the cycle of death and rebirth, which propels people from one life to the
next; the transience and restlessness of mundane existence.
Sangreach, Sangkhareach (sk samgha+raja, kh ): chief Buddhist monk.
Sangha: Originally a tribal assembly, an ancient governing body in the old republics of North India; later
a sect professing the dhamma of a particular teacher; finally, the Buddhist Order of Bhikkhus.
Sankhara: (sk 'formation'): the formative element in karma, which determines and shapes one's next
Sanskrit (kh  ): considered the 'perfect' sacred language of India. The Khmers used it in preference
to their native tongue to address the gods.
Sarabhanga: ascetic group visited by Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana.
Sarasvati: spouse of Brahma.
Sarnma Sambuddha: Teacher of Enlightenment, one of whom comes to humanity every 32,000 years;
Siddhatta Gautama is the Sarnma Sambuddha of our own age.
Sastra (often in kh      ‘sloek rith’): dried palm leaf manuscript, a medium used since
medieval times to write down oral traditions, medicinal treatises. In 2009, there were about 4,000 sets
of palm leaf manuscripts at the Saravoan Techo pagoda, 2,000 in the National Museum and 2,500 in the
National Library, and many more in pagoda or private libraries around the country.
Satha, Sadha (sk sastar, pl satthakh ): he who governs’, name of a king.
Satyabhama: wife of Garuda.
Satyavati: step-mother of Bishma.
Satyabhama: wife of Garuda.
Satyavati: stepmother of Bishma.
Sedei, Stupa: a funerary or commemorative monument usually containing the remains of incineration.
Sek, Seksa, Ses (sk sisya): disciple, novice.
Serna, Sema (sk sima, kh ): boundary stone, frontier.
Shambara: the demon of drought, enemy of Indra.
Shastra (kh ): Indian architectural treatises.
Shikara: pointed tower in Indian architecture; a tapering superstructure to the chamber of a sanctuary
originating from Orissa.
Shiva (sk The Auspicious One kh ): god of the ascetics, of cosmic destruction and creation. The
Hindu god who creates through destruction, particularly revered among ancient Khmer people. Part of
the Brahmanic trinity, the Creator and Destroyer, mounted on Nandin (the sacred bull), generally with a
third frontal eye and a crescent on the chignon, worshipped in the form of the linga.
Shuddhodama: King Father of the future Buddha.
Shurpanakha: rakshini, sister of Ravana.
Shuddhodama: King Father of the future Buddha.
Sinha, Singha, Singh (sk ‘lion blood’(bravery), kh , ch (shī): The Guardian Lion, a stone sculpture
adorning many palace and temple entrance).
Sita (sk The Furrow’ kh ): wife of Rama, daughter of Janaka.
Skanda: the god of war, son of Shiva.
Soma: god of the moon, guardian of the Northeast.
Somasutra: gargoyle, or spout, through which lustral water runs outside from the shrine. Often ending
with a carved makara head at the spout. Indicative of a Saivite temple.
Soryotei (sk siirya + udaya, kh  ): honorific name of a king or prince.
Soryopor (pl siiryabar, sk surya + varman, Kh  ): name of a king or prince.
Spean (kh  ): bridge.
Srah (kh ta ‘sa’): pond, water basin.
Srau (pl srirv, kh ): rice before germination; sreu loeng tam tuk(kh ) rice which rises
with the water.
Srei(sk sri, kh ): woman, girl, princess.
Srï Sundhar, Srey Santhor (sk): medieval form of Yasodharapura; name of a capital city in the 16th
Stele: stone slab standing vertically, with sculptural designs or inscriptions.
Stucco: ornamental plaster covering wall surfaces. Also called render, it is a construction material made
of aggregates, a binder, and water, which is applied wet and hardens while drying.
Stung(Kh  ): river.
Stupa (kh ): Buddhist reliquary shrine in the shape of an upturned begging-bowl.
Sugriva, Sukhreeb (kh  : a monkey king ‘Red Monkey’ (kh  ) who allied himself with
Rama to attack Ravana. His half-brother Valin had deposed him, but Sugriva regained power by killing
him in hand-to-hand combat - a popular episode in the Ramayana, often shown in Khmer and Southeast
Asian art.
Sujata: the young girl who presented a gift to the Buddha before his enlightenment.
Sukhonthor (sk Sugandha kh ): ‘The Fragrant One’, in the name of a king.
Sumadei (sk sumati, kh  ): ‘The Benevolent, in the name of a king.
Sunda: the asura who fought with Upasand and caused havoc on earth.
Surya (kh   ,   ): god of sun, father of Sugriva.
Sûryaparvata, Suryâdri (sk) : hill and temple founded by Suryavarman I, known as Phnom Chisor in
modern times.
Sushena: monkey general, father of Tara, Valin's wife.
Sutta (pl Sutta, sk Sutra): a discourse, a reasoning. In Pali language, literally means ‘the common thread’
Swayamvara: a ceremony where a bride can choose her consort.
Tanha (pl kh  lophlon): the 'craving' or 'desire' which is the most powerful cause of suffering.
Tantric Buddhism (also called Vajrayana, Tantrayana, Mantrayana, and in Japan Mikkyo ‘secret
teachings’): originated in medieval India, esoteric spirituality focusing on meditation and visualization of
deities and Buddhas. King Jayavarman VII was a preeminent follower. Cakrasamvaratantra is one of the
main roots texts of the Buddhist esoteric wave.
Tantrism: a form of Buddhism which grew from the Mahayana and favored the use of magic formulae
(mantra), symbols (yantra), and diagrams (mandala) to compel the gods to bestow magic power on the
Tapas (pl): asceticism; self-mortification.
Tara: wife of Valin.
Tataka: rakshini, mother of Marica.
Tathagata: 'Thus Gone,' the title given to the Buddha after enlightenment, sometimes translated as 'the
Perfect One.'
Techo (sk tejas, pl tejo, kh): honorific title of a grandee.
Tenon (fr ‘tenon’, ‘mortaise’): a projecting piece of wood or masonry made for insertion into a mortise
in another piece. Several smaller statues in Khmer temples have a tenon in their base.
Tep Roam (Kh : the spirit of dance.
Tep Monorom (kh ): a female group dance with expresses courtship and the happiness of
gods and goddesses.
Thani (sk dhani): town, city.
Theravada (sk vada path + thera ancient, 'The Path of the Elders’): disparagingly referred to by its
opponents as hinayana ('the inferior or lower path') this major sect of Buddhism flourishes nowadays in
Sri Lanka and mainland Southeast Asia. Its adepts maintain that they practice accordingly to the original
teaching of Buddha, contained in the Pali canon, the Tipitaka.
Thireach (sk adhi+raja, kh ): supreme king, in the name of kings.
Thom (kh large, big.
Thommo (sk dharma, kh ): the law, the holy law; a name of a king.
Thupdei (sk adhi + patikh ): supreme master, in the name of kings.
Tilottama: female deity created by the gods to pacify two fighting asuras who were wreaking havoc on
Tipitaka, Tri-pitaka (pl Three Baskets): the three main divisions of the Pali Canon.
Tonle (sk danle, kh ): lake.
Toych (kh): small.
Tral: boat.
Tramak (kh     moh domrei): mahout.
Trapeang (kh ): small tank or pond, usually man-made. Often followed by a proper noun
identifying a particular source of water.
Trei (kh ): fish. Reach sramut (sk raj sramut ‘king of the sea’, kh ): the royal sea fish’, tuna.
Trijata: a rakshini who spoke in favor of Sita.
Trimukha (sk ‘three-faced’): three-lobed design of a platform or structure seen in plan.
Trivikrama: epithet of Vishnu when making three steps.
Tuk, Toek (kh ): water.
Uccaishrava: the white horse of Indra, bred from the Churning of the ocean of milk.
Udom (kj , la, from sk uttama): ‘abundant, superior, supreme’ in Lao and Khmer.
Uktyean (kh ): ‘garden’.
Uma: daughter of the god Himavan, wife of Shiva. Also known as Parvati.
Upanisad: The esoteric texts that developed a mystical and spiritualized understanding of the Vedas,
and which would form the basis of Hinduism.
Upasunda: an asura who fought with Sunda.
Upiidiina: 'clinging', attachment; it is etymologically related to upadi, fuel.
Uposatha: the days of fasting and abstinence in the Vedic tradition.
Usha: beautiful daughter of Bana.
Vahana (sk 'vehicle'): a term which indicates the animal or avian mounts or vehicles of the gods, e.g.
Skanda's peacock, Shiva's nandi…
Vaisya: The third caste of farmers and stockbreeders in the Aryan system.
Vaisravana(sk vaisravana, pl vessavana): one of the ‘Forth Heavenly Kings’.
Vajra (sk “weapon”): ritual weapon manifesting the purity and strength of the diamond and
thunderbolt. Vajrayana, the ‘Diamond or Thunderbolt Way’, is the main spiritual trend in Tantric
Valin: in the Ramayana, king of the monkeys, son of Indra, half-brother of Sugriva, and husband of Tara.
Valmiki: the sage who compiled the Ramayana.
Vantail: leaf of a door.
Varman (kh  ): ‘Protector’. -varman (sk 'protection, breast-plate') is a suffix for the royal names of
almost all the Khmer kings; thus 'Jayavarman' means 'protected by Victory', 'Indravarman' 'protected by
(the god) Indra'.
Varnnasrama (sk varnna ‘caste’ and asrama ‘retreat, monastery’): teaching societies in Ancient Angkor,
defined by linguist Philip Jenner as ‘corporation colleges’.
Varuna: God of the ocean and guardian of the West.
Vasana: The subconscious activities of the mind.
Vasudeva: Father of Krishna.
Vasuki: great king of the nagas.
Vault: arch extended in depth.
Vayu: guardian of the North West.
Veda: the inspired texts, recited and interpreted by the brahmins, in the Aryan religious system.
Vibhishana: The Terrifying, rakshasa brother of Ravana, who left Lanka to join Rama.
Vihara, Vihear (sk and pl 'secluded place', kh ): an ascetic's cave or retreat, and also a name given
to temples or monasteries in Theravada Buddhism. Rectangular building housing a Buddha image.
Vimana: celestial palace of the gods.
Vimaya, Pimai (sk): name of a mahayanic Buddha ; name of a 11th-century Khmer temple in modern
Vinaya: the monastic code of the Buddhist Order; one of the 'Three Baskets' (Ti-pitaka) of Pali Canon:
vinaya-pitaka, sutta-pitaka, abhi-dhamma-pitaka.
Viradha: Rakshasa who attempted to abduct Sita.
Vishnu(sk ‘The Pervader, kh
): one of the main Hindu deities, Maintainer of the Universe.
Hinduism's supreme deity, yet less widely-worshipped than Shiva by the Khmers. He is the Divine
Preserver of the earth and heavens, whose extent he measured in three giant steps. Through his
avatara, he intervenes to restore order when there is chaos. His mild and peaceful nature the perfect
counterbalance to Shiva's destructive wrath. In Khmer art he is portrayed with four arms, the upper two
holding the god's 'attributes' of the conch and the discus, the lower two the orb (symbolizing the Earth)
and the club.
Vishvamita: a sage.
Visvakarman (sk) : name of the divine architect, author of numerous celestial and terrestrial residences
and palaces. Bisnukar is the Khmer derivative name of the legendary architect of Angkor.
Visvampa (sk) : one of Vishnu’s names ; name of one of Râjendravarma’s ancestors worshipped to these
days in the Pre Rup temple; another name of the latter temple.
Wat (or Vat) (sk vastu, pl vatthu, kh ): temple, pagoda, Khmer Theravada monastery consisting of the
religious buildings and the monks' cells. Angkor Wat, originally dedicated to Vishnu, has since become
known as 'the city which is a (Buddhist) monastery'.
Wiang (ta เวียง): fortified temple. In Lao language, a city, like in Wiang Chan (lao ວຽງຈັ ນ), Vientiane, the
capital city of Laos.
Yaksha: half-human and half-godlike being, associated with Kubera.
Yama: The 'prohibitions' observed by yogini and ascetics, who were forbidden to steal, lie, have sexual
intercourse, take hallucinogens, kill or harm another being.
Yama(kh ): king of the Dead, son of Surya reigning over the subterranean world, guardian of
the South.
Yasoda: Krishna's adoptive mother.
Yasodharapura (sk) : ‘The Glorious City’ founded by Yasovarman I: Angkor.
Yassa (kh ): the spiritual retreat during the monsoon rains, from June to September.
Yatra (sk ‘journey’): Hindu procession or pilgrimage.
Yekagrata: In yoga, the concentration of the mind 'on a single point.
Yoga(kh   ): The discipline of 'yoking' the powers of the mind in order to cultivate alternative states
of consciousness and insight.
Yogin: A practitioner of yoga.
Yoni (pl gabbhaseyya ‘womb’, sk yoni, kh ): womb, female genitalia and by extension the female
sexual principle, holding the linga in Brahmanic representations. When the linga is ceremonially
lustrated, the water thus becoming holy, runs down the yoni and flows out through its spout(s), allowing
Yuga (kh ): an age of the world.
Yuvaraja (sk): crown prince.
Sources: Angkor Database Team research, and lexicons from various books at
Templation Angkor Resort Library.
Thank you for mentioning this document source for online or print use: ©Angkor Database
Contact: | 1s publication date: November 2019

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