New 7 world wonders – Angkor Wat not included!

July 8, 2007

I am deeply disappointed! How can people choose the colosseum in Rome or the Christ statue in Rio de Janeiro over the Angkor Wat complex in Cambodia as some of the “new” world wonders? I cannot believe it!

Did the symbolic descriptions manipulate people’s choices? A political plot? I am not sure.

Instead of worshipping true workmanship and superhuman performance – which is the definition for a world wonder – more or less hype was taking the role in this unrealistic choice. How can a world wonder such as a Chinese Wall in fact be equally valued as a single statue or building?

I feel sorry for the Cambodian people who might have profited from their one and only treasure after suffering still from their unhuman heritage of the Pol Pot regime. They would have genuinely deserved a boost to their burgeoning tourist industry.


I won’t stop to feel extremely frustrated again as an artist that true performance is seldom recognized to its full extent. I won’t stop to remind people of the fabulous artistic works that have been nearly lost with my own quite humble artefacts:

Angkor’s Fragments are not replicas of existing ancient Khmer art but fictional pieces which could have existed as ivory parts, broken off from a relief by thieves.

This kind of scenery in fact happened and is still happening to many parts of the ancient stone murals, reliefs and sculptures at Angkor Wat. It’s a tragedy that there is hardly any money to cure the wounds of the living not to speak of the wounds of cultural treasures which have been damaged for religious or political fanatism or simply greed and are lost forever.


No civilized human being can understand why a heavenly Apsara face, a Buddha figure or any other symbol of worship which has survived hundreds of years is suddenly considered offensive, becomes a victim of a senseless mob and is even used as a shooting target.


All of these silk carvings (silk reliefs) are sculptured from one single piece of silk, stitched and finally painted. The depths of these works range from 1 to more than 2 inches. The technique is my own discovery. If you want to see more of this kind of artwork please check out the silk carvings on my website.

The next silk carving is called Apsara.
This piece represents the heavenly figures which have been praised for their beauty in many Asian countries for centuries. Origins are to be found in Indian mythology which spread in variations all over the Asian continent. The most beautiful sculptures and reliefs can be found at Angkor Wat, created by unknown artists under the reign of kings who have long disappeared but their heritage has not (see below)



Another piece of this series is Buddha, reminiscent of those huge timeless Buddha faces which are carved into stone in the Bayon area of Angkor. The devine radiation of those Buddha faces gives peace to your soul, shall remind you that nothing on earth is more important than to seek harmony within yourself and and let go of all passions which keep you chained to the profane of this world (see below).



The third piece in this row is called Lucky Dragon. The basreliefs which can be found at Banteay Srey, a little temple near to Angkor, built in pink coloured sandstone and called “the Citadel of the Women” inspired me to draw and paint this face (it is not a replica of an existing relief). This Kirtimukha (face or mask) is not meant to be a menace but a friendly spirit who wards off evil as in Tibetan Buddhist hangings and banners that decorate shrine rooms and temples (see below).

Lucky Dragon


Ganesha is originally a figure from the Indian panthenon, can also be found in many variations among the thousands of sculptures of Angkor Wat. The stone carving skills of the ancient Khmer were basically inherited from the Indian civilization but were later evolved into an own unique Khmer style. Many of the Khmer sculptures represent the Hindu deities such as Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, the elephant god Ganesha and many other gods and goddesses. Some large sculptures even portray the epics of the Hindu myths such as Mahabharata and Ramayana.

Ganesha is the Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. Symbolically Ganesha’s head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence. His human body stands for the earthly existence of human beings. The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol (mantra)of cosmic reality. In his upper right hand Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. It is said that he broke one of his tusks as a sacrifice in order to write the Mahabharata, the great Indian epic, his left hand is closed to symbolize he’s going to capture all difficulties.


The only consolation for my frustration of Angor Wat not having been chosen as one of the new 7 world wonders is, that the money the foundation of Bernd Weber has collected, will flow into the recovery of one of the Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan.

What you have missed before voting – there are a couple of websites which show the magnitude of Angkor’s temple complexes as a true world heritage that needs to ber conserved and a people that needs to be helped:

Angkor Wat Portal
Apsara Org
Heritage Watch
BBC Report
Kenro Izo
Japanese Photo Gallery
Les Splendeurs d’Angkor
Mekong Net-Various photo galleries and articles

6 Responses to “New 7 world wonders – Angkor Wat not included!”

  1. balkan Says:

    Also surprised and disappointed! The Christ statue in Rio de Janeiro looks like big manipulation with votes to me.

  2. Jamie Alluisi Says:

    I agree that Angkor should have been included in the wonders of the world. I was very upset that the christ statue made it. That seems really stupid to me. I think that they should re do the vote, and only put “wonders” that have a good historical and artistic significance in.

  3. vyala Says:

    Hi Jamie,
    I think most people do not consider the consequences such a choice has on public formation of an opinion. They do not think about the impact it has on potential support when it comes to save an endangered heritage. There are also many pure emotional reactions to consider such as an aversion against anything that’s related to Asia. People combine the threat of a growing economic power with an unfiltered opposition and just throw everything into one bucket.
    Very rarely those kinds of choices reflect true objectivity. Sadly enough it always finds the wrong people to suffer from those prejudices.

  4. Sowanna Yun Says:

    I have seen your photoes on Angkor Art. I think that it is not our art. Where did you get these photoes from.? Our Angkor Art is beuatiful more than you had posted them. I would like you to post some of real arts of our Angkor civilization.
    Thank you &

  5. Sambath Says:

    I feel very bad to my ancestor heritage. This vote made a unfair decision that make cambodian upset. Cambodia have only 13 million people, and only 10% of those people know how to use internet probably… This vote should re do it again….

  6. vyala Says:

    Thank you Sambath! That is another argument. They should have taken action to do it in a way that is accessible to everyone….

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