Angkor Wat: A cruciform cloister basin on the lower level

A water basin in the cruciform cloister structure situated on the lower level of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

A water basin in the cruciform cloister structure situated on the lower level of Angkor Wat

Cruciform Cloister Water Basin
The term cruciform cloister is used in architecture to describe a cross-like covered structure. The underlying design-principle was used in Angkor Wat to build two structures, one on the lower level and another on the uppermost terrace (also known as Bakan). The cruciform cloister on the lower level is situated near the west-side entrance of the temple and connects the outer-enclosure to the middle-enclosure. Check the ground plan of Angkor Wat for their location.

The cruciform cloister structure has two perpendicular axial galleries that intersect in the middle to form a cross and four boundary galleries that surround the cross to form a square. The shape of the structure thus looks like a cross surrounded by a square.

Each axial gallery connects to a boundary gallery in the middle. Thus, the resulting structure has four equal-sized quadrants, each of which is enclosed by half of the boundary and half of the axial galleries. As you can see from the image, each quadrant looks like a basin.

The cruciform cloister structure described above is an example of a perfectly symmetrical design. It is symmetrical about the east-west axis as well as the north-south axis.

As you can see from the image, the floor of the basin is paved and has steps to reach it. The construction appears water-tight. So, in all likelihood, it was a temple-tank (kunda or pushkarini), a common feature in Hindu temples. Experts believe that all four basins were filled with water when the temple was in use.

Check this page for the basin on the uppermost terrace: A basin in the cruciform cloister on the uppermost terrace.

Related Images
Central gallery of the cruciform cloister on the lower level
Center point of the lower level cruciform cloister
A cruciform cloister basin on the uppermost terrace
Plaque describing Preah Poan – A cruciform gallery with a thousand Buddha statues

Related Pages
Angkor Wat, Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei
Phnom Kulen, Tonlé Sap, Cambodia
Bali, Prambanan, Borobudur, Indonesia

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