the Kleang

"The storerooms"

Date late 10th century - beginning of 11th century
King Jayavarman V
(posthumous name: Paramaviraloka)
or Suryavarman I
(posthumous name: Paramanirvanapada)
Clearing Commaille in 1908 and H. Marchal in 1919-120

Just behind the Prasats Suor Prat towers and nearly opposite the extreme northern and southern limits of the Elephant Terrace, running parallel to the long side of the royal square, are two imposing sandstone buildings whose central core, preceded by vestibules to the east and west, is flanked by galleries and then smaller annexes at a lower level. These are the north and south Kleang, the name of which, "storeroom", does no justice to the monumental character of the buildings, to the rich perfection of their decoration or to the care taken in their construction. Of an unusual width - 4m.20 for the south Kleang and 4m.70 for the north Kleang - each rather gives the impression of being some kind of palace, destined perhaps for the reception of foreign princes or of visiting dignitaries.

If at first sight the two Kleang appear similar, they are in fact noticeably different, - the southern, remaining unfinished, seems later than the northern - though both date from the period between Pre Rup and the Baphuon (late 10th - middle of 11th century) being of the same period as the gopuras of the royal enclosure. Their decoration is slightly later than the style of Banteay Srei. Two inscriptions in the north Kleang date from Suryavarman I (1002 - 1049) while two others from the south Kleang reproduce the formula of the oath of servants, inscribed during the reign of the same king (1011) on the door jambs of the east gopura of the Royal Palace.


Set on a plain moulded base platform, the 0m.90 thick walls are decorated at the base and at the cornice and are entirely of sandstone - pierced on the two main sides by large square windows, each with seven balusters. The east and west porticoes have four windows - their wooden and tiled roofs have completely disappeared. The large internal gallery, as a single space, extends overall for 45m, with, on the axis, two projections corresponding to the porticoes. Their only decoration is a frieze under the cornice. The two small annexes at either end, at a lower level, are finished externally with a false door and open to the west side with a window, while to the east a small door linked them to a system of partial galleries, at least in light-weight materials, enclosing an internal rectangular courtyard of about 50 metres by 30, itself divided into two by another north-south gallery. Virtually nothing remains of this arrangement.


Preceded to the west by a cruciform terrace of a late period, built on filled ground and with a balustrade in nagas of various styles, the north Kleang is the more imposing building and the more carefully executed - its plinth has its entire surface sculpted with a classic profile of opposing diamonds, with a central band of foliated scrolls which is one of the finest in Khmer art. Its colonnettes have four large bands instead of the eight of the south Kleang - which so dates them earlier - and are therefore more sturdy, while the lintels and frontons, with the head of Kala set on a background decoration of large vegetal scrolls, show characteristics of the 10th - 11th centuries.

The walls are also thicker - 1m.50 - and support within the bare interior a false upper storey which, due to the bad practice of supporting the stonework above the deep reveal of the openings with doubled wooden beams, has inevitably collapsed. Sandstone was only used as an external face to the laterite blockwork.

In the centre, at a later date, the long gallery with its tiled roof was split by a masonry construction forming a tower, which has today mostly crumbled. This divided it into a square middle room of 4m.50 flanked by two others of 18m.70 by 4m.70. In the passage one can still see the doubled wooden beams in place above the connecting doorways. Two remarkable bronze statuettes were found in these galleries - one of Vishnou, the other of Lokesvara.

Towards the east extends the same arrangement of surrounding galleries that one finds at the south Kleang, but here it was possible to rebuild some elements of the external walls, with their cornice and long horizontal windows, after having found them on the ground. The centre of the courtyard is marked by a small cruciform sanctuary which approaches the style of Angkor Wat. Its sculpted base platform, of which only the main level remains, must have been connected to the galleries by light-weight passages forming a cross. The 2m.00 by 2m.00 sanctuary chamber is open to the four axes with as many small doors. One can see in the north-east corner of its base a "somasutra" - an evacuation channel for lustral water.


Just to the east, a small group of structures opening to the west has been found to form a complete monument - relating in style to Banteay Srei and slightly predating the Kleang. A laterite wall forms a square of some thirty metres each side, enclosing the remains of a 2m.10 square prasat that has three false doors, two "library" type buildings and a miniature cruciform gopura of 1m.80 by 2m.00. In front, one of the lions marking the entrance still stands. Of the sanctuary, only the bases of the corner piers remain - decorated with devatas in their niches which are similar to, but slightly larger than those at Banteay Srei. The miniature sanctuary towers from the upper corners are arranged on the ground - as are the frontons of the two "libraries". Within the southern library, eleven small lingas of 0m.47 in height were found curiously aligned in three rows.