Garuda #39, mock-up before final reassembly
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Restoration Continues at Garuda #39

Garuda #39, mock-up before final reassembly

Preah Khan temple at Angkor Archaeological Park is surrounded by 72 large carved Garudas, divine eagle-like beings that are the physical and symbolic protectors of the temple. While their power is legendary, the Garudas have struggled to withstand the formidable advance of both time and nature. Over the years Garuda restorations have been made possible through very generous individual gifts of $25,000, but last year the Friends of WMF joined together to raise the funds needed to restore Garuda #39, which was in need of immediate conservation and stabilization.

Work began shortly after the campaign ended in 2015—read about the early stages in a blog post from last fall. Since then Garuda #39 has been completely disassembled block by block. This process allows conservators to stabilize the wall and foundation on which the Garuda sits, and test the sandstone blocks that form the Garuda for strength and stability.

Next, the foundation was inspected and a few of the laterite stones were replaced to ensure stability for the long term. The project faced a minor setback in December when a dead tree branch fell one of the Garuda’s blocks – but the team was able to put the detached pieces together quickly.

Site manager Mr. Chhuom has been working on Garuda restorations for over fifteen years – and when I spoke to him about the project he said, “I like Garuda 39 because the laterite wall is in better condition than [the neighboring] Garuda 38 so we can keep more of the original blocks. But I’m sad that the foundations were so decayed and we had to replace them. I like to see each Garuda when it is [completely] reassembled, I look at it and hope it is going to be there for long time.”

In the coming months, the Garuda will be reassembled, and restoration is due to be finished in May 2016. When work is complete on Garuda #39, 30 of Preah Khan’s 72 Garudas will have been restored with funds by our generous donors.

The Friends Garuda campaign was the first of its kind for World Monuments Fund, and due to the campaign’s success, our Moai Circle has launched another Garuda restoration campaign.  We invite you to learn more and join the campaign to restore Garuda #72!
 

Image top: Garuda #39, mock-up before final reassembly

Image top: Garuda #39, mock-up before final reassembly