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Terrace of the leper king

The Terrace of the Leper King is located on the way from the Boyon temple to the Dei Chhang Gate on the left and north of Terrace of the Elephants; it was built in late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. The curious name of this terrace refers to a statue of the Leper King that is on the platform of the terrace. The naked figure is depicted in a seated position with his right knee raised. Today statue is a copy. The original is in the National Musuem in Phnom Penh.

Who was the Leper King? Mystery and uncertainty surround the origin of the name. The long-held theory that king Jayavarman VII was a leper and that is why he built so many hospitals throughout the empire has no historical support whatsoever. Some historians think the figure represent Kubera, god of wealth, or Yasovarman I, both of whom were allegedly lepers. Another idea is based on an inscription that appears on the statue in characters of the 14th or 15th centuries which may be translated as the equivalent of the assessor of Yama, god of death or of judgment. Yet another theory suggest that the Leper King statue got it name because of the lichen which grown on it. The position of the hand, now missing, also suggests it was holding something.

The Terrace o Leper King is supported by a base 25meters on each side and 6meters high. The sided of the laterite base are faced in sandstone and decorated with bas-reliefs divided into seven horizontal registers. The exterior walls contain mythical beings-nagas, garudas, and giants with multiple naked torsos and triangular coiffures with small flaming discs-adorn the walls of the terrace. The interior wall is remarkable condition. The deeply carved a low frieze of fish, elephant and the vertical representation of a river.

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