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Woman’s History

Cambodia’s 12th century temple of Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument on earth. Built at the height of the Khmer Empire in the 12th century, this massive structure preserves the portraits of nearly 2,000 Southeast Asian women. Sadly, the profound significance of these women has been ignored by scholars during the past 150 years of intense study. was founded to study the ancient female portraits women

The time has come to recognize these powerful Khmer women, to reconsider the true purpose of Angkor Wat, and to understand the role women had in developing this extraordinary civilization.

Research presented at indicates that a primary reason for building Angkor Wat was to honor these women and to celebrate their vital contributions to the Khmer Empire. These women were key to maintaining a harmonious Khmer society, its economy and maintaining the balance of the universe itself.

Today, women worldwide still seek equality and recognition for their contributions. For that reason we periodically present special articles about woman’s history dealing with issues beyond Southeast Asia.

Bayon Devata Goddesses of King Jayavarman VII

Bayon Devata Goddesses of King Jayavarman VII

On the towers above, serene faces gaze out over the jungle. But below, Jayavarman VII followed the example of King Suryavarman II by filling his monument with female energy. The portraits of sacred women, now called devata or apsaras depending on their style, surround the Bayon.