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.
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 best photo index of Khmer temples in Cambodia and Thailand is available free thanks to the efforts of “Khmersearch,” a skilled (and generous) German photographer.