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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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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