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sacred women

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.

Two Khmer Devata Goddesses in Sikhoraphum Thailand

Two Khmer Devata Goddesses in Sikhoraphum Thailand

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.

Preah Khan Temple Khmer Devata Goddesses of Darkness

Preah Khan Temple Khmer Devata Goddesses of Darkness

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

Angkor Wat West Gopura Entrance Devata Goddess Portraits Facing East

Angkor Wat West Gopura Entrance Devata Goddess Portraits Facing East

The importance of the West Gopura structure cannot be understated: this is the gateway to Angkor Wat. Its west facade may have been the only part of the the temple that the vast majority of the public ever saw. But even that statement assumes too much. Angkor Wat West Gopura entrance devata goddess portraits facing East

Daughters of Angkor Wat edited by Kent Davis

Daughters of Angkor Wat

Daughters of Angkor Wat examines the mystery of why 1800 detailed portraits of ancient Khmer women appear in the Hindu temple Angkor Wat.