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.
The small, elegant Khmer temple of Thommanon is located just outside the Gate of Victory that gives access to the ancient walled city of Angkor Thom from the east. Directly to its south is the small temple of Chau Say Tevoda, currently under restoration.
Like most Khmer temples, Ta Som is filled with standing female images called devata (or tevoda, tevada), and flying or dancing female divinities called apsara (or apsarases, apsaras). Ta Som temple devata goddesses depict Sacred Khmer women in Cambodia
Cambodia’s great kings filled entire temples with sanctified images of women. Why do female images at Preah Khan dominate this extraordinary ancient temple? Khmer devata goddesses in the heart of Preah Khan temple
Sacred images of Khmer women still dominate and protect the temple with their auspicious presence. Many stand hidden in shadowed alcoves, seen by few visitors. Preah Khan Khmer temple devata goddesses
These photos reveal a few of the “Devata of Darkness”: images of Cambodia’s sacred women called devata — sometimes inaccurately referred to as apsaras — hidden from the light of day in passages beneath the collapsed structure. Preah Khan temple Khmer devata goddesses of darkness
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.