Heaven & Hell

Bas-Relief in Angkor Wat

The punishments and rewards of the 37 heavens and 32 hells are depicted in the eastern half of the south gallery. On the left, the upper and middle tiers show fine gentlemen and ladies proceeding towards 18-armed Yama (the judge of the dead) seated on a bull; below him are his assistants, Dharma and Sitragupta. On the lower tier, devils drag the wicked along the road to hell.

To Yama’s right, the tableau is divided into two parts by a horizontal line of garudas: above, the elect dwell in beautiful mansions, served by women and attendants; below, the condemned suffer horrible tortures that might have inspired the Khmer Rouge. The ceiling in this section was restored by the French in the 1930s.