The 1,796 female figures rendered in sandstone on Angkor Wat’s pillars and walls have weathered war and a harsh tropical environment for more than 800 years. During my first visit to Angkor Wat in 2009, I was struck by the beauty and individuality of these devatas, which decorate the largest religious building in the world. When I visited Cambodia again last month, I was just as intrigued.
I wonder how many artisans it took to carve these bas-relief figures?
Are they modeled after real women of centuries past? If so, and if they could speak, what stories would these women tell?
Some scholars have concluded that the beautiful, mystical women adorning Angkor Wat are heavenly goddesses, whereas others on the website Devata question if they are actual representations of real women who lived during the Angkor Empire.
Peruse this gallery of black & white images to see for yourself.
Where in the World?
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All rights reserved.