Angkor Wat: Apsaras in the middle terrace

Apsaras in the middle terrace of the Angkor Wat Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Apsaras in the middle terrace

Apsaras in the middle terrace
The image shows a sculptural relief depicting two apsaras carved on the middle terrace of the Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

As you can see from the image, the beautifully carved apsaras with the perfect bodies are standing elegantly and smiling.They are wearing exquisite jewelry on their necks, hands, legs, ears, and around the waists. The dangling earrings reach up to their shoulders, and they look like the flowers of the Kror Sang tree. Adorning their heads are intricately carved three-tipped mukutas (crowns/headdresses). Both the apsaras are wearing different but elegant dresses decorated with beautiful flowery patterns. The jewelry and costumes in the carvings showcase the richness of the Khmer culture and reflective of how people used to live in the Khmer era.

Inspired by the beauty and elegance of the apsara carvings in the Khmer temples, especially in the Angkor Wat Temple, dancing apsaras make up a significant part of cultural dances (ballets) in Cambodia. They use similar types of jewelry and costumes, including the majestic headdress’, that appear in the bas-reliefs.

There is no equivalent English translation for the Sanskrit word apsara. The closest translation is celestial maiden or nymph. In Indian mythology, apsaras are youthful eternal beauties.

According to one myth, apsaras are accomplices of gandharvas (who are celestial musicians), and through their singing and dancing, they entertain the gods. In another myth, apsaras are one of the by-products of Samudra Manthana, and the devas (demigods) took with them the court of Indra, the king of the devas and heaven. For more details on the Samudra Manthana, check: Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs

Related Images
A pillar with two apsaras in the uppermost terrace
A wall with five apsaras in the middle terrace

Related Pages
Angkor Wat, Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei
Phnom Kulen, Tonlé Sap, Cambodia
Bali, Prambanan, Borobudur, Indonesia

Copyright © 2020 by Lawrence Rodrigues. All rights reserved.

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