Conch shells were blown in tantric rituals to make the sound that was considered to correspond to the initial syllable om of a mantra. Mantras are codified strings of syllables that practitioners repeat multiple times to help focus the mind through sound. Historically in South Asia, conch shells were used as a call to battle in military contexts. In the Buddhist ritual context, it signals the start of one’s process of destroying delusions and misconceptions. The dancing tantric figure of Hevajra has been worked into the bronze embellishment of the shell. Hevajra was elevated to a prominent position in Khmer Buddhism of the Angkorian period as the standard figure denoting tantric practices.
The largest alphabet in the world is used to write the Khmer language, spoken in Cambodia, and has 74 letters. The smallest alphabet is used to write the Rotokas language, a language spoken by around 4,300 people in Papua New Guinea, and has just 12 letters.
Artistic reconstructions of Angkor by Maurice Fievet
Shiva worship; ladies of royality; king audience; scene of palace life; sculptor at work; brahmanas writing texts, construction of Angkor Wat; royal procession, entertainment during festivals; sacking of Angkor by the Thais in 1431.