Nectar in Stone (Cham and Khmer civilisations)

Nectar in Stone

This is a fast-moving documentary made under the auspices of the Ministry of External Affairs of the Govt. of India, which looks at the effect Indian civilisation has had on the Cham and Khmer cultures.

The documentary opens in India and looks at how the maritime silk routes to SE Asia allowed the spread of Indian cultures to the region. After briefly looking at some of the highlights of the culture in Cambodia it turns to the Cham culture in what is now southern Vietnam.

Although this segment is only around 20 minutes long, it is one of the best introductions to Cham culture I have seen, and covers the main architectural sites of My Son, Tra Kieu, Hoa Lai and many others, as well as the splendid collection in the museum in Danang.

The documentary then makes its main focus on the Khmer civilisation that rose to prominence in the 9th century, and again looks at all the main centers, such as the early Roulous settlements, then on to Angkor itself, and some of the great monasteries and universities that are found there.

The highlight for the producers is obviously going to be Angkor Wat itself, which is still the largest religious structure in the world, and was built by the greatest civilisation in the ancient world.

Most of the artefacts are Hindu rather than Buddhist, although for a certain amount of time they co-existed, before Buddhism supplanted the former. Most of the early period though, which is what is covered in this documentary was Hindu.

The documentary is told at a breath-taking pace, and it is sometimes hard to keep up, and it seems like the director, Roy Daniels, had a mini-series in mind, but had to force them all into one 60-minute film.

Photographs of the sites make up a large part of the material that is featured, and they were mainly taken by Benoy K. Behl, whom own documentaries I have often featured on Dharma Documentaries.

 

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to see a set of stills click on the screenshots below
(there are so many I have put them into two separate albums)

 

 

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