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Book News & Reviews

Devata.org offers important book news and book reviews relating to Southeast Asian and South Asian culture, Our focus topics include the Khmer Empire and culture, Thai culture, Cambodian dance, French colonial literature, Cambodian and Thai folktales, the role of women in ancient and modern societies, Khmer and Indian temples featuring goddesses, apsaras and devata, heritage preservation.

French casting of a Khmer dancer based on works by the School of Cambodian Arts (possibly from the studio of Alfred Finot, 1876-1947).

Khmer Crafts-George Groslier and the School of Cambodian Arts-Part 2

In early 20th century Cambodia, George Groslier established the School of Cambodian Arts, teaching students the crafts of modelling, wood-carving, sculpture, bronze-casting, furniture-making, the art of the gold­smith or silversmith, and (for girls) weaving. In 1936, English author Miss H. W. Ponder published “Cambodian Glory,” including a detailed chapter about this unique school titled “The Tree of Knowledge.” This is the second of a four-part series of articles excerpted from her work.

George Groslier in his home study in Phnom Penh on December 3, 1922.

George Groslier and the School of Cambodian Arts-Part 1

In 1936, English author Miss H. W. Ponder published Cambodian Glory, including a detailed chapter about George Groslier and the School of Cambodian Arts titled “The Tree of Knowledge.” Excerpts from her article are featured on Devata.org as a four part series detailing Groslier’s work reviving the classic crafts of the Khmer people by founding the School of Cambodian Arts. This is the first article in a four part series.

Women's Wiles, with a cover painting by George Groslier, presents early 20th century Cambodian folktales in English for the first time.

Fascinating Fantastic and Funny Cambodian Folktales in English and French

Cambodian imagination knows no bounds! This new collection of Cambodian folktales in English and French takes readers through imaginative twists and turns to meet simple villagers living deep in the jungle, kings and princesses in fabulous palaces, angels and gods of the Hindu heavens…you’ll even confront (and outwit) fierce pirates hiding in island lairs! Originally collected by French writer G. H. Monod in the early 20th century, Cambodian scholar Solang Uk adds new perspectives and cultural information to this new edition to make these timeless tales even more entertaining. The rare cover painting of Cambodian village life was done by artist George Groslier in 1912.

"Khmer Costumes & Ornaments: After the Devata of Angkor Wat" by Sappho Marchal. Plate XXX.

Book Review of Costumes of the Devata of Angkor Wat by Sappho Marchal

A mystery. How is it that in 1927, a 23-year-old woman understood more about the diversity of the 1,800 devata goddesses at the Khmer temple of Angkor Wat than mainstream scholars would see for the 80 years?

Equipped with nothing but a pad of paper and a pencil, Sappho Marchal was the first person to begin a quantitative analysis of the symbolism encoded in the royal female portraits immortalized in Angkor Wat. Who are these women? What hierarchy do they represent? Chances are the answers to these questions are portrayed in Sappho’s clear drawings.

Douglass rendered Angkor Wat's western entrance in 1927 in this 10 7/8" x 14 1/2" etching. Courtesy US Library of Congress.

From America to Angkor the Artistic Odyssey of Lucille Douglass

In 1927, American artist Lucille Douglass wrote the lines below…who would suspect that she would remain at Angkor Wat for all eternity?

“Angkor is one of the really great experiences of my life-a more intellectual than emotional experience — not that it left me cold, quite the contrary — but it was more of an uplift — an inspiration.

“Our stay — longer than most tourists — was all too short — Angkor Wat alone requires years of study — living with understanding — a few days seems but a mockery.

“I have never had a place affect me so peculiarly. . . . I shall go back for a time as long as I can stand it and do further study on the spot.

“You see the ruins are set in the midst of the jungle — which held them in its clutches for so many centuries that it still seems jealous of them.”

gkor Temples - The Guidebook is the most comprehensive guide available for travelers.

The Best Angkor Guidebook is Focusing on the Angkor Temples

For exploring the temples of Cambodia the best Angkor guidebook is Michel Petrotchenko’s “Focusing on the Angkor Temples – The Guidebook.” In addition to detailed descriptions and historical information, it’s packed with full color images, maps, diagrams and temple site plans that puts a tremendous amount of information at your fingertips, whether you’re an expert or a first time visitor.