Culture

Devatas and Apsaras

The walls of Angkor Wat are adorned with elegant carvings of beautiful women with welcoming smiles. Who are these women? They are Devatas and Apsaras. In Hindu mythology Devatas are gods/goddesses that are guardians or custodians of people, places and things. There are Devatas of the rivers, forests, mountains, temples and so forth.

Apsaras are a type of Devata that are meant to entrap mortals with their beauty, the dance moves reflect this idea and include slow-paced, mesmerizing moves that hypnotize audiences.

Legend says Apsaras were born from the Churning of the Sea of Milk, also referred to as “Samudra Manthan” in Hindi or “Ko Samut Teuk Dos” in Khmer.

Churning of the Sea of Milk on the walls of Angkor Wat

The myth of Apsaras gave birth to the Khmer Royal Ballet known as the Apsara dance which is the heart of classical Khmer dance that dates back to the reign of King Suryavarman II (1113-1145), builder of Angkor Wat.

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