Khmer-American photographer Phalika proposes that two heavenly women on the walls of an ancient Cambodian temple may be more than artistic imagination. A new magazine, Cambodia Insight, features her theories in an intriguing cover story.
Siem Reap, Cambodia – For 150 years, archeologists and experts have assumed that thousands of beautiful women lining the walls of Cambodia’s temples represented apsaras: imaginary dancers manifested from the churning of a magical Sea of Milk to entertain in the Hindu god Indra’s court in heaven.
But what if some of these female images represent real women?
Khmer-American photographer Phalika believes that the sister queens of King Jayavarman VII – Jayarajadevi and Indradevi – are clearly portrayed by two detailed statues in the heart of Preah Khan temple. Tragically, these magnificent stone images, some of the most exquisite ever carved in Cambodia, may now be threatened by structural collapse and even vandalism.
In her article in Cambodia Insight magazine, Phalika states,
“I believe that as Khmers with our rich heritage and due respect to our good kings and queens, if we had known these as portraits of Queen Indradevi and Queen Jayarajadevi instead of calling them apsaras, hidden in Preah Khan endangered by collapsing stone walls, we would have saved their precious sculptures and places them next to King Jayavarman VII in a museum.”
Devata.org examined the goddesses of Preah Khan’s inner temple and noted similarities between these images and other accepted portraits of Queen Jayarajadevi. Phalika has continued gathering additional photographic evidence supporting this theory, that readers can consider for themselves on her website. Phalika also has downloadable PDF documents of her research available for free download in French and English.
Download the complete article free at Cambodian Insight (see thumbnails below).