In a tale that traces royal love, divine wisdom, treachery and betrayal, “Angkor – The Untold Story” depicts the passion of a woman so pure that the temple she helped build nearly a millennium ago still stands as a testament to her passion. In this production by the Apsaras Arts dance troupe of Singapore, Indian apsaras reveal the untold story of Angkor Wat in a spectacular performance that is a breathtaking homage to the art and heritage of Cambodia and India. The November 2013 Indian Festival of Esplanade showcases their presentation as its opening performance.
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.
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.”
The Hindu temple of Angkor Wat enshrines nearly 2000 portraits of ancient Khmer women documented here in the Angkor Wat Devata Inventory.
Digital Kindle Cambodia books 2013 offer Angkor history and even folktales instantly at your fingertips with Amazon’s Kindle Reader.
Cambodian dancers from the Conservatoire NKFC Preah Ream Buppha Devi re-sanctify Bayon temple in Angkor with a sacred dance ritual.
The Khmer civilization that grew to unify most of Southeast Asia between the 8th-14th centuries respected women. Today, we still see their temples filled with images of sacred women –termed devata, apsara or Khmer goddesses – who embody the feminine forces of the universe. While women and goddesses appear as icons in many ancient and modern societies, the Khmers gave sanctified women dominance over their state temples more consistently and more visibly than any other group.
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.
Near the Khmer temple of Banteay Srey at Angkor, “sacred dancers” study the ancient ritual art of Cambodian dance at NKFC’s school.
Hidden in the ancient jungle temple of Preah Khan at Angkor, images carved on a door may be proof of a Khmer legends like Aesop’s fables.