of Angkor-related architectural,
cultural, historical and religious
Khmer (kh), Sanskrit (sk), Pali (pl), Chinese (ch), Laotian (la), Latin (lt), Siamese (sm) Thai (ta), Tamil (tl), Theravada Khmer(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: (sk '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
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, Shiva’s linga, also a prince honorific title since the middle period.
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 , jp アンコール, ch 吴哥): 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
One of its ancient names was Sri Yasodhar. Thai sources record in 1632 Angkor Wat was called
“biṣṇuloka”, “mahā nagara”, or “braḥ nagaravāt,” literally “the temple city” or “the city of temple(s). Also
called “brah jetabal” or “jet bray” at that time, a corruption of Jētavana Vihāra, monastery built for the
Buddhā, term also used by Japanese pilgrims in 17th century.
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.
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 rites.
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
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'; ch Guanyin): 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. In Southeastern and Chinese traditions, the deity is ‘The Venerable Mother’ and
‘The Hearer of Prayers’.
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
Beng (kh): a natural pond.
Bhikkhu: an 'almsman,' a mendicant monk who begs for his daily food; the feminine form is bhikkhuni, nun.
Bhu (sk): the Earth goddess, a spouse of Vishnu. She is portrayed at Vishnu's feet as he sleeps on the primeval
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, Pimeanakas.
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 (kh): Khmer name of Angkor Wat since the middle period. (cf. Paramavisnuloka).
Blind Door or Blind 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
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 religion.
Brahmin: a member of the priestly caste in Aryan society, responsible for sacrifice and the transmission of
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
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). From pre-Angkor to modern eras: “Funanese” Period 1st century BCE – mid-6th century: Oc-Eo
(Mekong Delta) in relationship with Angkor Borei (South of Cambodia); Pre-Angkorian (6th – 9th century):
many capitals and cities divided in political unities, especially Angkor Borei (in particular 6th century) and
Sambor Prei Kuk (in particular the 7th century); Angkorian (9th – 14th century): generically, “Angkor”
[Mahendraparvata (Phnom Kulen), Hariharalaya (Roluos), Yashodhara] with a brief period in Chok Gargyar
(Koh Ker); 14th – mid-15th century: Angkor; mid-15th century – mid-16th century: Srei Santhor (Sithor,
Basan), Chaktomukh (Phnom Penh), and Srei Santhor; mid-16th century – 1594: Longvek, with a royal
sojourn at Angkor; 17th – 19th century: Oudong [some authors include Sambor (north of Kratie) as a royal
Ceto-vimutti (sk ‘the release of the mind’): a synonym for enlightenment and the achievement of Nibbana.
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 central and southern
coast of contemporary Vietnam, southern coast of 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 , old kh , sk Nagaracampa , vn Chiêm Thành or Chăm Pa, ch Zhànchéng 占
城,lt Ziamba, old fr Champe or Ciampe, old it Cianban): a country which existed along the coastal strip of
what today is central and southern 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 15th century, reduced to the principalities of Panduranga and
Kauthara at the beginning of the 17th century. Kauthara was annexed by the Vietnamese in 1653. The last
remaining principality of Champa, Panduranga, survived until 1832.
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 enlightenment.
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 Penh.
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 or Chetei(Sk saitya, kh ): Khmer word for a reliquary, funeral monument, stupa.
chmur, -Chhmar (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.
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.
Chola (Cola) Dynasty (tl ): a Tamil clan and dynasty of Southern India, the Cholas developed
and a maritime empire as one of the longest-ruling dynasties in the world's history (9th-13th centuries).
Ultimately defeated by the Padyan empire, the Cholas influence extended to vast parts of Southeast Asia.
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.
Cochinchina: (ch 交趾支那 [translit. Tchen-tching, Jaozhi Zhina], kh , vn Nam-Ky, Gia-Dinh, Nam-
Bois the old name given to the lands south of the Gianh River, an area often contested by modern Cambodia
and Vietnam. The origin of the term is also contested, some sources attributing it to the Portuguese (Ko-
Chen-China, 'the Cochin of China', to distinguish it from the Indian Cochin), while some linguists have offered
the poetic etymology of 'Given Daughter of China'.
Colonette (fr ‘colonnette’): small column, usually decorative in Khmer architecture, standing at either side of
Corbel Arch: the technique of arched passageways used by Khmer builders, less sturdy than the ‘true arch’.
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
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, Dhamma (sk dharma kh [Thmo’, also a king’s name]: originally, the natural condition of things,
their essence, the fundamental law of their existence. By extension, religious truth, sacred law and path, the
doctrines and practices that make up a particular religious system.
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 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.
Emperor (sk chakravartin “universal ruler”, mod. Kh akthireach): temptative translation of the title
chakravartin, first used by Jayavarman V. The modern Khmer for “empire”, , chakraphop, uses the
same Sanskrit root and literally means “ruler of the planet”. Also, chakrabani, “the one with a
chakra in his hand”, refers to Vishnu, chakra being any symbol of power.
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 cell.
Gautama (fr Gotacma): original name of the ‘historic’ Buddha.
Ghlâmn, Khleang (dravidian) : storage place, hole housing precious artifacts in a temple ; outbuilding of a
Giants (kh yeakan 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 孔) : 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 epic.
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 known 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 built by Bisnukàr as instructed by Indra,
and by extension medieval Cambodia.
Indrapura (1) or Amarendrapura: according to inscription on the stele of Sdok Kok Thom, Indrapura or
Amarendrapura was the first capital of Jayavarman II reign about 781, before the foundation of Khmer
Empire. George Coedes and Claude Jacques identified it with Banteay Prei Nokor, near Kompong Cham, while
Michael Vickery assumed it was closer to Kompong Thom. Some scholars have proposed Ak Yum as the center
of Amarendrapura. (2) name of one of the Champa kingdom (or principalties) capital cities, located
according to Henri Parmentier Charles Carpeaux at the site of Dong Duong in modern Vietnam.
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
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.
Kailasha: sacred mountain dominating the Himalayas, abode of Shiva. In Khmer and Cham traditions, the
Dangrek mountains are related to the myth of primal flood, 1) the landing of the boats carrying the first
Khmer 2) the shipwreck of the King of Champa the year of Buddha’s death (543 BC). The legend of Ravana
shaking the Kailasha mountain is depicted in Angkor. Another legend states that “the daughter of the
mountain” (Kailasha) married Shiva, and the Khmer dance form robam kailas is supposed to perpetuate this
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 Aryadesa.
Kampuchea, Kambuja (sk kambuja, old kh , 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 founder. Name of the Khmer Empire in various languages (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese Kamboya or
Kamboja, French Camboge or Camoge, Old Javanese Kamboja). Also Kambujadeśa (Sanskrit: , old
kh , kh ).
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;
Katayus: the king of vultures.
Kanthaka (kh ): the Buddha's horse.
Kantuy Krapoe (kh ): Aquilaria Aloexyle, aloes wood. The Khmer name means ‘crocodile tail’.
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.
): 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
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.
Kok (kh : numerous.
Koh (kh ): island.
Koh Ker, Koh Ker (old kh gargyar ): originally Chok Gargyar (forest of Hopea odorata (Dipter.),
according to Saveros Pou, and also Lingapura (sk ‘City of the Lingas’): 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
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
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
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 Thai).
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
Linga, Lingam (sk): phallus symbol representing the procreative essence of Shiva. Adopted by the Khmer kings
as the palladian of the kingdom; 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 (sk 'Lord of the World'): an alternative name for the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, preferred by
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 Kauravas.
Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī (pl, sk Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī): the Buddha’s adoptive mother and first bikkhuni.
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
Mahout (sk 'Mahamatra', ta Kwan Chang): the man who drives the elephant.
Mahunagar (sk.): ‘The Great City’, name given to the Angkor group.
Majapahit (old jv ‘bitter maja (local fruit)’?): perhaps the greatest of the early Indonesian kingdoms, it was
founded in 1293 in East Java by Wijaya, who defeated the invading Mongols. Under the ruler Hayam Wuruk
(1350-89) it expanded across Java and gained control over much of present-day Indonesia—large parts of
Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Borneo, Lombok, Malaku, Sumbawa, Timor and other scattered islands. Trade
relations were established with Cambodia, Siam, Burma and Vietnam. According to the Nagarakretagama
(Desawarñana) written in 1365, Majapahit was an empire of 98 tributaries, stretching from Sumatra to New
Guinea. It is sometimes seen as the precedent for Indonesia's modern boundaries.
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. In Khmer architecture, often
a hybrid mix of crocodile, fish, tapir, bird and elephant.
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 reservoir.
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 type 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").
Monsoon (fr mousson, from pt monção, from ar. mawsim ‘season’ [from wasama ‘to mark, brand’]: known
in Khmer as យល់មូ សុង, kchyal mousong, "the wind of monsoon".
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-
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.
Nataraja (sk “the lord of dance”): a representation of Shiva.
Natyashastra, Natyasastra,Nāṭya Shāstra (Sk , lit. "Treatise on Acting, Representing") is the oldest
know Sanskrit treatise on the performing arts ascribed to sage Bharata muni.
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
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.
Nirvana, nibbana (sk nirvāṇa, kh nippean): the liberation of the repeating cycle of birth, life
and death, samsara.
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
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 Bisnulok.
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
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
Phnom (kh ): mountain, hill, hillock.
Phum (kh ): village.
Pilaster: square- or rectangular-sectioned pillar that is actually engaged in the wall, becoming a projection.
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 Jayarasudamani, 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 elaborately 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 stupa.
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 alone.
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
Purohita (sk 'superintendent'): the king's closest assistant. Also, the brahmin priest in charge of royal rituals.
Purusa: The Absolute Spirit that pervades all beings in the philosophy of Samkhya.
Purvaranga (sk : the “preliminaries”, the prologue of a drama or dance performance, including flower
offerings in the Indian tradition of Natyashastra. Also known as shtapana.
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
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
Rajahota: royal priest.
Rajalalisatana: a way of sitting with one knee propped up, used mainly by princely people.
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,
narrating 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. While the Cambodia version is known as the Reamker or
Ramakerti, the Thai one is the Rāmakien, the Laotian one Phra Lak Phra Lam, and the Rāmāyana Kakawin in
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
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’, ‘imposing’.
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 Enlightenment.
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 ): 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, the goddess of eloquence and arts in Angkor.
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.
Shaivism (Saivism) (sk Śaivasampradāyaḥ) is the major Hindu tradition that worships Shiva, also
called Rudra as the Supreme Being, or his consort, Devi (‘The Goddess”). One of the largest Hindu
denominations, it includes many sub-traditions ranging from devotional dualistic theism such as Shaiva
Siddhanta to yoga-oriented monistic non-theism such as Kashmiri Shaivism. Shaivism arrived in Southeast
Asia around the 11th century CE, inspiring thousands of Shaiva temples around Indonesia, Cambodia and
Vietnam, and co-evolving with Buddhism in these areas. The scriptural revelations of the Saiva mainstream
are called Tantras, and those that act in accordance with their prescriptions are Tantrics (tantrika). The term
tantra means a system of ritual or essential instruction, distinct from the Vedas (direct revelation, sruti).
Shambara: the demon of drought, enemy of Indra.
Shastra (kh ): Indian 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, of the
çosmic dance’ and dance in general. 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
Shivakamasundari (sk ‘Siva’s beautiful desire’): the consort of Nataraja (Shiva as the Lord of Dance).
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 獅 (shī): The Guardian Lion, a stone sculpture
adorning many palace and temple entrance).
Sikhara, Shikara (sk. Śikharah), a tall, often beehive-shaped superstructure set above the inner sanctum of a
Hindu temple in northern Indian temple design. The towered temple style evolved from one to three, four or
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
Srei(sk sri, kh ): woman, girl, princess.
Srï Sundhar, Srey Santhor (sk): medieval form of Yasodharapura; name of a capital city in the 16th century.
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.
Sukhanthor (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
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
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
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 earth.
Tipitaka, Tri-pitaka (pl ‘Three Baskets’): the three main divisions of the Pali Canon.
Tonle (sk danle, kh ): lake.
Toych (kh): small.
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.
Trimurti (sk ‘three forms’): triad of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva; representation of these deities in various
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 Buddhism.
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)
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 Thailand.
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
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
1s publication (RF001): Nov. 2019. Last Update: May 2022