Because of the internal crises and invasions from
neighbouring countries, the Khmer kings moved their capitals many
times. The city of Angkor Thom was abandoned in 1431. This period
(post-Angkorian) is marked by the decline of the Angkor Empire,
from a glorious past. During this dramatic transformation of politics,
Cambodia through cross-cultural influences, adopted Theravada Buddhism,
which remains the national religion in Cambodia today.
This event is marked by Jayavarman VII ’s
son named Tamalinda, who returned to develop this religion in Cambodia.
Based on inscriptions at Wat Nokor, Jean Filliozat noted the introduction
of Theravada Buddhism probably occurred at the end of the XIIth
century. The main religions of Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism practiced
by the earlier Khmer kingdoms were abandoned.
Instead of Brahmanic temples, this new religion
urged people to build wooden ‘wats’ filled with Buddhist
statues. According to the complex structure of these buildings,
wood became a substitute material for stone. Despite its hardness,
wood is more easily damaged by natural forces and is prone to fire.
Wood was also commonly used during the pre-Angkorian
period, but unfortunately, there is not one object made of wood
dated to this period in the National Museum collection. However,
the National Museum does possess some ethnographic objects and Buddhist
statues made of wood dated to the Angkor and post-Angkorian periods.