Photo du Jour: A Bejeweled Horse – Angkor Wat, Cambodia

 

The magic of Angkor Wat and magnificent Cambodian temples like Ta Prohm and  Bayon is all in the details: richly-carved female devata and apsara bas-relief figures, a visiting Buddhist monk clad in a tangerine-colored robe spotted amid the grey structures, a handsome horse wearing a bejeweled bridle in Angkor Wat’s fore.

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Khmer Architecture in the Shadows of Angkor Wat

In Angkor Wat’s shadows, this pagoda is likely overshadowed by her formidable neighbor. But the pagoda’s stupas, Khmer painting, and intricate facial details are lovely – situated on a compound just outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

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A Return to Angkor: Exploring Breathtaking Bayon Temple

As you wander through Bayon Temple’s wedding cake-like levels, it’s likely you’ll feel as though you’re being watched — and indeed you are — by the 216 immense faces that adorn the 54 towers of this Angkorian jewel.

Built in the late 12th Century, Bayon was established as the temple for King Jayavarman VII. It is believed that the statues with the Mona Lisa-esque smiles were modeled after King Jayavarman himself, perhaps married with the face of the Buddha. It took over a century to construct Bayon.

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An Afternoon at Angkor Wat

During my maiden (and solo) visit to Angkor Wat, I glimpsed the majestic Cambodian structure at sunrise. Seeing the inky sky gradually awaken over the site and then illuminate it with a shrimp-colored hue was a magical experience. But in the years since, I’d read that the sunrise experience had lost some of its luster, due to massive crowds.

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The Devatas and Apsaras of Angkor Wat in Black & White

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. I was first struck by the beauty and individuality of these devatas in 2009, during my first visit to Angkor Wat, which is the largest religious building in the world. During a subsequent visit to Cambodia last month, I was just as intrigued.

How many artisans did it take to carve these bas-relief figures? Are they modeled after real women of centuries past? If they could speak, what stories would they tell?

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Angkorian Dress-Up in Cambodia

The silken costumes with gold embellishments transform these Angkor Wat models into winged creatures, apsaras, and other mythological beings from Angkorian times. They position themselves in a prime location within Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat complex.

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