The Hindu temple of Angkor Wat enshrines nearly 2000 portraits of ancient Khmer women documented here in the Angkor Wat Devata Inventory.
This article is based on research presented by Trudy Jacobsen in her book “Lost Goddesses: The Denial of Female Power in the History of Cambodia”.
Set like a gem among fertile ricefields, the 11th century Rajarani Temple is a breathtaking example of of Orissan style. It is also an immediate architectural predecessor of the Khmer Empire’s greatest monuments.
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.
Just one hundred miles to the south, the Khmer civilization sanctified thousands of female images on the walls of their most important temples, both Hindu and Buddhist. But here, in what is now modern day Thailand, only two devata remain, fulfilling a mysterious spiritual mission long since forgotten.
Today acolytes are few, but sacred images of Khmer women still abound, protecting the temple with their auspicious presence.
Who were the six sisters of the Angkor Wat devata at Wat Athvea? South of Siem Reap the small temple enshrines six 12th century goddesses.
The vast temple of Angkor Wat protects a hidden treasure: portrait carvings of 1800 Cambodian women. Is this record an ancient Facebook?
A 12th century Khmer temple in Cambodia, protects an incredible treasure: lifelike royal portrait carvings of 1800 ancient Angkor Wat women.
Miranda Shaw devoted more than a decade of research to creating this epic work, greatly expanding on concepts she introduced in Passionate Enlightenment. Buddhist Goddesses of India by Miranda Shaw book review