The Female Divinities photographic series was sited on the Angkor Wat Portal - An excellent resource for news in Cambodia.
Date of Shooting: July 28, 2002
Film Type: Fuji Color 200
Camera: Olympus OM 10 quartz 35mm single lens reflex
Lens: 30-70 mm Makinon
This is the third series in an attempt to document the carving arts on monuments and statuary in SE Asia.
The first series was close-up views of woodcarvings from the Ayutthaya period in Thailand: both original and restored. Date: October 10, 2001. The second series was devoted to a unique marble farm in Mae Sai, N. Thailand. The marble is imported from Mandalay, Burma where it is quarried, and rough cut into the statuary shape before it is finished in Thailand. Date March 2002.
This series features the carvings of the Apsaras and Devatas on the stone monuments of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Jayavarman VII, the Buddhist King, built Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm in the 12th century. The temples were devoted to the assembly hall of the Gods. Angkor Thom and the central Bayon are a majestic example of the art of the Khmer civilization. These female divinities still reveal their devotional qualities, which existed during the height of the Khmer civilization. After 800 years these graceful dancing Apsaras still display their warmth and beauty. My concentration this time was to capture the many variations that time has brought to these Apsaras through weathering, lichens, forest encroachment, and temple decay. Each variation offers a unique mood and testimony to the enduring beauty carved into these temples. It is truly beauty frozen in time.
Angkor Wat was built by King Suyavarman II in the 12th century.
The more I explore the ancient cultures of SE Asia the more I learn about the exquisite art that has been preserved and past down through the centuries. I will return to Angkor Wat many times as I have just begun to explore this vast World Heritage Site.
Impressions of the Apsaras written down at Angkor Thom and the Bayon:
Click on image for larger view.
Standing still and upholding all the temple portals she is there smiling and awaiting the procession of the royal family to pay homage to Siva.
Frozen forever with her eternal smile the Apsaras and Devatas emit grace, warmth and serenity. Her smile is so inviting it is as if she knows the secret of eternal happiness.
Surrounding the entire temple the Apsara guardians are beckoning the viewer to enter this beautiful temple and enjoy the secrets of divine bliss.
Haunting and beautiful she stands everywhere spreading her charm and beauty.
The Apsaras of the Bayon and Angkor Wat are the eternal representations of divine grace, still here, if only you can get close enough to see her and greet her with your own smile of acceptance.
Love has been permanently carved into stone, and has been such for over a 1000 years.
I am thankful I have finally found her calling across time, beckoning me to see her, so that I may feel true grace.
It is as if you can actually hear strange whispers around the temple walls.
There is a very distinct presence of the Khmer culture that is still here after all these centuries.
The quiet of the entire temple ground complex has a very magical air to it.
Apsara costumes and adornments: - Designs and Fashion of the Khmer Dancers
SE Asia Photographic Series #3
India's Chaunsat Yogini Temple and the Women of Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat Apsara and Devata: Khmer Women in Divine Context
Other stories related to the Khmer Empire.
Part I- Stones in the Sky - Before the Journey to Angkor Wat
Part II - Stones in the Sky - The first visit to Angkor Wat - July 27, 2002
Part III Section #1 - Stones in the Sky - The secrets of Angkor Wat - March 2003.
Part III Section #2 - Stones in the Sky - The secrets of Angkor Wat - March 2003.
Part IV - Stones in the Sky - Journey to Praeh Vihear - May 2004.
Part V - Stones in the Sky - Journey to Beng Mealea - October 2004.
Part VI - Stones in the Sky - Pilgrimages to Vat Phu - April 1-4, 2005, October 21-25, 2005
Part VI - Stones in the Sky - Pilgrimage to Lingaparvata (Linga Mountain, Champassak, Laos) - February 8-12, 2006
Stones in the Sky - Part VI - Directions to Lingaparvata (Linga Mountain, Champassak, Laos)
Stones in the Sky - Part VII - Vadavamukha - Sambor Prei Kuk (Personal reflections - under development as on June 21,2006)
A special expedition for Sacred Tours in Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia with Willard Van De Bogart.