Angkor Wat West Gopura Devata Goddess Portraits Facing East: An eternal view of Heaven on Earth.
By Kent Davis
NOTE – No living person knows who the women of Angkor Wat were. No one knows what the ancient Khmers called them; why their images were immortalized in the largest temple ever built by the Khmer civilization; or what they truly represented to the Khmer rulers, priests and people.
Devata.org offers new theories and information to help understand the women of Angkor Wat. Your theories are equally valid. Use your eyes, your heart and your mind. Weigh the evidence. These Khmer women have much to teach us about the past and future glories of the rich land of Cambodia.
The West Gopura – Inside Angkor Wat
The importance of the West Gopura structure cannot be understated: this is the gateway to Angkor Wat. Its west facade may have been the only part of the the temple that the vast majority of the public ever saw. But even that statement assumes too much.
Whoever was privileged enough to cross the Rainbow Bridge and pass through the West Gopura would enter the realm of Heaven on Earth, Angkor Wat itself.
On the outside we have the women who gazed across the divine sea to the world outside. But on the inside of the West Gopura we have women immortalized in what could be interpreted as an even more exclusive region.
Visitors passing through one of three porticos in the central part of the West Gopura arrive inside the huge, walled garden compound of Angkor Wat. Visitors could also arrive by elephant or carts through the “elephant gates” at the north and south ends of the structure. Each of the gates enshrine 8 more devata in their interiors. You may meet them on this page.
So, on the inside (East) wall, we discover 119 devata. Women who earned an eternal view of the Temple Mountain Angkor Wat…and who also have the honor of welcoming Surya, the Sun God, at every sunrise as they have for nearly 1,000 years.
Some of the most beautiful devata at Angkor Wat appear on this inside wall. My theory is that the West Gopura, and the diverse group of sacred women seen here, represent a microcosm of the entire temple. The West Gopura is therefore a glorious introduction to the wonders of Angkor Wat, and offers some of the most striking views of the temple.
There are 259 women on this entrance structure: 124 on the outside wall, 119 on the inside wall, and 8 in each elephant gate entry chamber at the north and south.
Logically, these women must have been quite extraordinary to have been featured on this prominent structure. But allow yourself the freedom to consider different perspectives before making a judgment.
Are they protecting the structure and the Temple of Heaven that lies within?
Are they are simply adorning the structure with their beauty?
Or, in fact, is the structure glorifying and honoring these women by exhibiting their images in such an auspicious place?
Every coin has two sides.
Meeting these women face to face will help you decide. The following album shows the faces of the women of the inside (East) wall of the West Gopura. The women who have watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat every day for nearly 1,000 years…